Saturday, June 10, 2023

A Song of Comfortable Chairs (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency #23), by Alexander McCall Smith (author), Lisette Lecat (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781705047989, September 2022

There are signs of trouble in Mma Ramotswe's normally peaceful world. Mr. J.L.B.Matekoni made the disturbing suggestion that, with equality between the sexes now, there's no reason for her detective agency to be called the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Mma Makutsi has ordered new stationery for the agency, with the letterhead redone in a way that could suggest to some that Mma Makutsi has somewhat higher qualifications than Mma Ramotswe. She also appears to be ordering a new, larger desk.

But Mma Makutsi is her friend, and when she learns of the troubles Grace Makuti's husband, Phuti Radiphuti, owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Store, is having business troubles due to a new competitor undercutting him, she can't help but want to help. Aside from the threat to his business, Phuti is disturbed by the low quality and lack of real comfort offered by the new competitor's furniture, especially chairs. And, the undercutting is remarkably efficient. They announce lower prices than Phuti's right before Phuti's new prices are announced.

There's also the small matter of an old friend of Mma Makutsi's, another woman from Bobonong named Patience, who after some major challenges in her life, is now living, along with her 14-year-old son, with a good man who treats her very well. Unfortunately, her son resents him and is extremely rude and disrespectful to him. It's extreme enough that it's putting real strain on Patience's relationship with the man, to the point where he's suggested that this can't go on. He'll have to ask her to leave if things don't improve.

Patience has asked Mma Makutsi for help, and she and Mma Ramotswe come up with a plan, that Phuti agrees to.

Meanwhile, Charlie, the part-time mechanic in Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's garage, and part-time trainee detective, is pushing for more responsibility and recognition of his growing detective skills. He manages to insert himself into a case Mma Ramotswe doesn't think his help is needed in.

We see both the conflict and the solid friendship between Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi, the conflict and the growing understanding between Mma Makutsi and Charlie, Mma Ramotswe's own insecurities as well as her wisdom and flexibility, and, along with the strong relationship between Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, whe see the strong relationship between Mma Makutsi and Phuti Radaphuti. The whole story reflects the values of respect and caring for each other and the community they're a part of.

We have no murders here, no high-speed chases, and the worst people in the story are the undercutting furniture business people, and Violet Sephoto, Mma Makutsi's long-time nemesis now intensely disliked by everyone who knows her--everyone who knows Grace Makutsi, and possibly everyone who knows Violet Sephoto. It's a story, as all the No. 1 Ladies' Detective series books are, of people who care about doing the right thing, and making the world around them a little better.

I really enjoy this series.

I bought this audiobook.

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