Yet Another Super Detective
Bunny Suraiya
TO THE LAND OF LONG LOST FRIENDS by Alexander McCall Smith Little, Brown/ Hachette, Penguin/Random House, 2019, 227 pp., 699.00
May 2020, volume 44, No 5

There are not many fictional characters that acquire lives of their own. Sherlock Holmes comes to mind, as do Rumpole of the Old Bailey, Don Quixote, Cyrano de Bergerac and the inimitable Jeeves. The most recent entrant to this exalted and much-loved hall of fame is Mma Precious Ramotswe, the ‘traditionally built’ lady who is the founder and owner of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Gabarone, the capital of Botswana, the beloved country.

This 20th novel in the series offers a delightful opportunity to revisit all the characters who have made each new work in this series a best seller. Mma Ramotswe herself, an irresistible blend of love, compassion, common sense and adherence to a belief system rooted in honesty and good manners; her kind-hearted, hard-working car mechanic husband, always referred to by his wife as Mr JLB Matekoni’s (we never find out his first name) and courteously addressed by her as Rra; her assistant detective, Mma Grace Makutsi, the only graduate from the Botswana Secretarial College to have achieved 97% in her final examinations and who is justly proud of her achievement; her redoubtable friend, Mma Potokwani, matron of the Orphan Farm where children orphaned by the dreaded African disease (AIDS? Ebola? We are not told) are looked after with love and discipline; Charlie, Mr JLB Matekoni’s failed assistant mechanic who has kind-heartedly been employed by Mma Ramotswe as an assistant in her Agency, and who pursues from afar his hopeless love for Queenie-Queenie, a girl far too rich for him to aspire to.

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