For fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the opening of a new Mma Ramotswe book is akin to meeting up with a dear old friend for a cup of tea. The latest – and sixteenth book – in the series, The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café, does not disappoint. This is the perfect dose of light philosophy and fun.
Mma Makutsi is back from maternity leave, and no sooner has she become a full partner in Gabarone’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency than she also wants to buy a restaurant. But, all is not as it seems at The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café and the outspoken Grace Makutsi is lucky to have Mma Ramotswe on her side. Mma Ramotswe, meanwhile, has been hired to figure out the identity of a mysterious Indian woman claiming to have amnesia, and she is trying to figure out what to do when her husband must make one of the mechanics in his workshop redundant.
The series about the “traditionally built” Precious Ramotswe is a hard one to describe simply because nothing much happens. Rather, McCall Smith is an expert at expressing the day-to-day behaviours of ordinary people, tuning into their charms and eccentricities so that the reader cannot help but be completely engaged. As each of the characters enter the scene, you cannot help but smile with utter contentment – purr even – as you settle into the comforting pages.
In the sunny Botswana landscape, life moves at a different pace, and there is always time for a piece of fruitcake and a cup of Rooibos tea, and McCall Smith’s simple, straightforward narrative perfectly captures the magic and simplicity of a different way of life. These modern morality tales are an absolute pleasure to read, and Mma Ramotswe is a true example of how life should be lived.
As Mma Ramotswe says, there are two types of days: those in which too little has happened, and those in which too much has happened. My recommendation? If you haven’t already, enjoy a few delightful days of too little while you get acquainted with Mma Ramotswe and her friends at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. As always, an utter delight to read.