Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe (No. 1Ladies' Detective Agency #15), by Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, ISBN 9780307911544, September 2014

Grace Makutsi, growing more comfortable in her position as the wife of Phuti Radiphuti, owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Company, and as partner in the No. Ladies' Detective Agency, has embarked on a new business. She's opening a restaurant, the Handsome Man's Deluxe Café. Phuti has his doubts about Grace's blithe confidence, but he loves her and supports her. Her lawyer helpfully introduced her to a chef, who goes by the single name of Thomas, and who equally helpfully knows a waiter and waitress he can employ.

What could be more promising?

Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has taken on the puzzling case of a woman who has apparently lost her memory and has no idea who she is. She's been kindly taken in by Mr. Sengupta and his sister Miss Rose, owners of a very successful stationery business. Unfortunately, if she cannot prove her identity and that she is in Botswana legally, she will be sent back to South Africa.

This is a familiar and very pleasant ramble through Gabarone, with all our old friends, including Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Charlie, Fanwell, and Mma Potokwane, the matron of the orphan farm. An old enemy, Violet Sephotho, also makes her presence felt.

One of the enjoyable aspects of these books is that the main characters are as flawed as any human beings anywhere, but are all basically good, decent, likable people. McCall Smith doesn't ask us to be "sophisticated" enough to like the unlikable or admire the wicked. Mma Makutsi can be prickly, insecure, and vain, but underneath it all, she's the woman who chose the shy, physically unimpressive, stuttering Phuti Radiphuti when she had no idea he was a wealthy businessman. Charlie is lazy and self-involved, but when push comes to shove, he's there for his friends. And of course, the likable strength and decency of Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is the major force through the entire series.

This is another enjoyable entry in the series. Very much recommended.

I bought this book.