Friday, January 1, 2016

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #16),by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Lisette Lecat (narrator)

Recorded Books, October 2015

Precious Ramotswe's friends and family decide she needs a holiday. One clue she really does need a break may be how ready she is to suspect Mma Makutsi of a wicked desire to take the agency away from her. Sanity prevails, Rra Polopetsi, now working part-time as a science teacher, volunteers to help out while she is gone, and Mma Ramotswe commits to a two-week holiday.

But she's staying home, and the idea is to "do nothing," which Mma Ramotswe is of course incapable of.

Reorganizing her food cabinets takes some time. Tea at the President Hotel chatting with some other ladies is a good way to kill an hour or so. But on her return to her little white van, she finds it has been scratched--presumably by the boy who promised to "watch" it and "keep it safe: for the low, low price of just four pula--two on deposit. She quickly finds and catches the boy, called Samuel, and is quickly drawn into his story. The exploitative woman who has been "caring for him" and teaching him to steal and extort does not know what she has met with when Mma Ramotswe arrives at her front door.

But meanwhile, there's still the agency, and Mma Ramotswe can't help wanting to know what's going on, with Mma Makutsi in charge, and just Charlie and Rra Polopetsi to assist her.

She quickly learns that a new client has come in, the sister of a local political figure who has recently died. There's a proposal to name a street for him, but it has been stalled by the anonymous information that there is some kind of scandal in the man's past. The sister wants Mma Makutsi to find out what is really going on, so that her brother can be cleared, and honored.

Or that's what she says.

But why did Mma Makutsi take the case, start investigating, and then pass it Rra Polopetsi? Why does she refuse to budge from this when Rra Polopetsi--who, after all, is a chemist, not a detective--is clearly frustrated and distressed, distressed enough to go to Mma Ramotswe about it even though she is on holiday? And who is behind the sudden appearance of the No. 1 Ladies' College of secretarial work?

Mma Ramotswe can no more take a holiday than she can stop drinking red bush tea.

This is a wonderful visit with old friends, and as always, the mystery is really the B plot. The real meat here is the relationships among the regular characters, the growth of those characters, and the impact they have on those around them.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.