Mystery Books for Sale

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by Alexander McCall Smith
Recorded Books, April 2003
Unabridged audio pages
ISBN: 1402541791

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The third in the series, Morality For Beautiful Girls, does not disappoint. Mr. McCall Smith has indeed continued to captivate us with the delightful, and inspiring Mma Ramotswe. As the book begins the reader can almost feel the flames of the campfire, and sound of the night animals, as the first mystery unfolds. A white man with his clients are at a table outside their tents, the trackers around the campfire bantering back and forth to each other, when the acute senses of the white man and more experienced tracker feel something close by. The discovery of a young boy who had been raised by lions is thought provoking and heart wrenching when you learn that quite a number of African children go missing and end up this way, with no one ever knowing who they are or where they came from. The author only gives us glimpses of the progress of teaching the boy to trust, and hopefully to speak, however, I feel that he leaves us somewhat unsatisfied, but perhaps he will tell us more of the boy's progress in future novels.

Mma Ramotswe's secretary, Mma Makutsi, has much more of an active role in this book. Due to the engagement of Mma Ramotswe to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, their two businesses must be housed under the same roof to save money. Mma Makutsi had been so worried that she would lose her job with the move, only to find out that she was offered the job of Assistant Manager of Speedy Motors. This, however, was Mma Ramotswe's doing unbeknownst to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. He, however, becomes ill with depression as the move of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency begins, so that Mma Makutsi is given the job of Acting Manager of Speedy Motors in his absence. Watching Mma Makutsi's character grow and become so versatile is heartening. The author shows no matter how your life is changed in one direction, you can make it be a positive change by applying yourself to the new task that faces you. Mma Makutsi shows that she can apply the skills she learned at the secretarial college to not only organizing the files, making order from the bills, but in using psychology on the apprentices to get them to work, rather than laze about. The subtlety with which this is done is amazing.

It is evident that both Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are very honest people which is why they are successful and people trust them. From the task of finding the most honest person to win the Miss Botswana beauty contest to finding out the truth of whether someone is actually trying to poison the brother of an influential man in town, both ladies approach their cases with heart and respect for those involved. Mma Ramotswe was very sage when reassuring one of her clients that "Crying is the way things get better - it is the first step."

The most poignant part of the story is when a crippled foster child writes a school paper, which is later read by Mma Ramotswe, in which she describes herself as "A Girl With Three Lives". Here the writing is provocatively interesting, letting the reader experience a young girl's unusual reaction to situations that might crush other people.

The book is about understsanding and looking inside people for who they really are. The series is becoming more than mysteries without murder, but rather thought-provoking lessons on life, with a backdrop of Africa and lively characters. I love it.

Reviewed by Ginger K. W. Stratton, August 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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