Friday, July 22, 2011

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith *****

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party is the newest No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel by Alexander McCall Smith. In my previous post I gave a mini-rant against episodic novels where the characters never grow or change - much like the justifiably maligned sitcoms. Now, faced with another such novel, the 12th in this case, I support the art form because Precious Ramotswe and her assistant Grace Makutsi are just wonderful and I never want them to change.

In this peaceful detective story, the only violence is the maiming of a farmer's cattle - certainly serious in Botswana where a man's status and station might be judge by how many cattle he owns and how he treats them. While Mma Ramotswe is hired to solve the mystery of who attacked the poor cattle, she spends most of her time with a surfeit of suspects worrying about the social implications of accusing one or the other. Her challenge is to to discover the real problem and solve that problem, while maybe never solving the crime.

"She was not the sort of detective - or person, indeed - who needed to get anywhere fast."

As usual, Botswana is a traditional place where people live in small villages, and everyone knows everyone and is often related by blood through distant cousins. The book is delightful and the mystery solved quite surprisingly and satisfactorily.

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