“ Author: Alexander McCall Smith / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 05 February 2009 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Title: The Miracle at Speedy Motors / ISBN 13: 9780349119953 / ISBN 10: 0349119953 / Alternative EAN: 9780316030076 „
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The latest book in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series follows hot on the heels of The Good Husband of Zebra Drive and continues the feel-good storytelling in this series.
The story is set in Botswana and is the tale of Precious Ramotswe and her now well established detective agency. This book seems particularly light on actual detective work and more focussed on the family stories of Precious and her assistant (or should I say Assosciate Detective) Grace Makutsi. This is not a problem for me as I'm interested in the whole story.
I got completely lost in the book and can picture Botswana in my mind and all the goings on, my enjoyment of this one was slightly marred by having watched the BBC1 series and having pictures of their actors instead of the characters I imagined previously (my mum was right when she told me not to watch it!).
Overall though these books are still a good, quick and light read and very enjoyable.
The Miracle at Speedy Motors is the 9th book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, and fans of the previous books will be pleased to know that this one carries on in the same easy reading vein as the others. Alexander McCall Smith must spend every waking hour writing books, as I seem to see a new one of his every week, but this particular series is my favourite. His writing instantly conjures up a picture in my mind of Botswana, and what it might be like to live there. Whether my perception is true or not, each time a new book in the series comes out, I can instantly feel myself 'return' there.
A quick recap - the series centres around Precious Ramotswe, a laid back, gentle lady detective, her husband Mr J.L.B Matekoni, her assisstant Grace Makutsi, and the various adventures that they get themselves into. Each book has several storylines on the go at once, but they are very easy to keep track of.
The stoylines in this particular book involve finding the author of a series of anonymous letters, tracing the family of a young woman, problems involving a new bed and trying to find medical help for Mma Ramotswe's adopted daughter. Though these don't sound particularly riveting when written down, McCall Smiths easy way of writing draws you in to the everyday goings on of these familiar characters.
All the old favourite supporting characters are here - the apprentices, Mr Polopetsi and so on. This is perhaps the first book where the sun is not shining all of the time - we get quite a bit of rain this time! And there seems to be more occasions for Mma Ramotswe to wonder if her beloved Botswana is still the place she thought it was, which seems to be a recurring theme.
For newcomers to the series, I wouldn't recommend starting here, you will need to read the others first I think. But for current fans, this book is a nice extension to the series, and will not pull any nasty surprises.
I've read mostof Alexander McCall Smith's other books featuring Mma Ramotswe and have enjoyed them all. They are easy to read and whilst not a very heavy subject are quite enlightening about how life in Botswana could be.
If you haven't read any of the other books in the series then here is a very short synopsis; Precious Ramotswe is a private investigator - in fact the only female private investigator in Botswana. She has an assistant called Mma Makutsi, who had the highest score ever from the Secretarial College. Mma Ramotswe is married to Mr JLB Matekoni, who owns Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. They have two adopted children one of whom is disabled. Both mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi drink a lot of tea - it is the answer to everything!. Mma Makutsi is very fastidious in how the office should be run, with all pencils being sharpened, books arranged in position and the filing down systematically, although this can cause a problem when the keys are not available to unlock the cabinet.
This book revolves around ;
1) Mr Matekoni's quest to find a cure for their daughter. Unfortunatley he falls under the sway of a doctor who has promised a miracle cure in South Africa. It results in a lot of heartache for both father and daughter and the possibility of bankruptcy to pay for it.
2) Mma Makutsi' quest to find the perfect bed with her fiancee Mr Phurti Radiphuti, with disasterous consequences. The new bed will not fit in the house and it gets left outside in the rain.
3) Mma Ramotswe's investigation for a young woman who is looking for her family - unfortunatley she doesn't know her real name or whether any of them are still alive. She finds her brother only to fall in love with him and it is a good job he turns out not ot be any relation!
The books ambles along from one storyline to another, rather like a friendly aunt taking a leisurely ramble through the past.
Nothing about the book is rushed, but I read it in a day (its 214 pages long and I do read fast). It is pure escapism with its easy dialogue and its ramblingness!
The edition I have is the USA edition and I'm lucky enough to have a signed first edition thanks to my sister queueing up at the local bookstore!