Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection

Toronto: Knopf Canada, c2012.
272 p.

The latest entry in a favourite series of mine, The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection treads familiar ground. Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutski must investigate peculiar circumstances to get at the truth of things. They focus on the mystery of human experience rather than on crime, generally: this volume is no exception, as the lady detectives sip tea (red bush for Precious, regular black for Grace) and ponder the strange and incomprehensible behaviours of those around them.

The mysteries in this episode focus on a shady house builder who is working on Grace and Phuti's new home, an accusation of theft made against the upright and hardworking Fanwell, and the sudden dismissal of Mma Potokwane from her longstanding position as matron of the Orphan Farm.

Each of these situations affects those near and dear to Mma Ramotswe and she must retain her equanimity while she explores the facts behind each of them. She is helped in her quest by the appearance of someone quite unexpected: a tall stranger first seen in her dreams and discussed at lenthg in the opening pages of the book. When he actually appears, with shock they realize he is the one and only Clovis Andersen, author of the No. 1 Ladies’ go-to manual, The Principles of Private Detection. They can quote his book better than he can, which leads to some amusement. And they also find out that he is a more complex individual than expected. One of the lessons they teach him is that we never know how we may affect others; each of us has a valuable contribution to make in life.

Once again, a great entry into the series by McCall Smith. His trademark observations about human nature abound, as well as descriptions of the magnificence of the Botswana landscape. There is one scene in which Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are stranded by the side of a road in the bush, and it manages to be funny, yet with a hint of terror regarding wildlife, and to show both the grandeur of Botswana and the power of human caring as the women are rescued by a local farmer.

All in all, another very enjoyable read.


  1. Oooh, didn't know a new one was out! I'll go check the Express Reads in my library right away.

  2. Wonderful review! I share your enthusiasm for this series. I've read most of them, but need to catch up a bit. The films, shot in Botswana, are also fabulous.

  3. Never read this series, but as I'm currently reading about South Africa I think I'll give this a go. Thanks for the review!

  4. Niranjana & Suko -- it seems that once you get started on this series you want to read them all...I really love the gentle nature of them.

    Vintage Reading -- the very first ones in the series really evoke Botswana very strongly, so if you're interested in reading something set in SA you might find these a good choice!


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