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by Alexander McCall Smith
Knopf Canada, May 2009
212 pages
$29.95 CAD
ISBN: 0676979238

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT, in addition to the usual cast of characters, introduces Fanwell, the new apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. He is a delightful, shy young man who lives with his grandmother and three siblings. Quite a contrast to Charlie, the other apprentice who is wild and overly confident, Fanwell is just the person to help Mma Ramotswe when she finds her beloved white van dying.

Mma Precious Ramotswe is told she is very famous and that everyone knows her and knows about the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. While Mma Ramotswe is basking in this thought, she is approached by Mr. Leungo Molofololo, one of the richest men in Gaborone. Mr. Molofololo owns the Kalahari Swoopers football (soccer) team. Though the players are very good, lately they have been losing every game. Mr. Molofololo suspects someone on the team wants the team to lose. He hires Mma Ramotswe to find out who that person is, and fast. The big problem is Mma Ramotswe doesn't know anything about football and she can't go undercover to learn about the players if "everyone" knows who she is. What she does to learn about the game and the way she cracks this most perplexing of cases is classic Ramotswe.

While helping with the investigation of the Kalahari Swoopers case, Mma Makutsi, Ramotswe's secretary/assistant private detective, has problems of her own. Just as she is enjoying the fact that she is engaged to Phuti Radiphuti, the owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, she learns he has hired Violet Sephotho (who had extremely low grades at the Botswana Secretarial College). Mma Makutsi is suspicious when Phuti mentions that Violet is quiet and demure and claims to have earned 87 percent at the Botswana Secretarial College. Mma Makutsi, who is normally like a volcano about to erupt, can hardly contain herself when she learns Violet is breaking all records in selling beds and may be promoted to Assistant Manager. Mma Ramotswe, hearing the facts, enlists the help of Charlie. What happens next makes Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi wish they had been flies on the wall of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop.

The love of Botswana and the delightful philosophy of the people always come through to the reader. In the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Alexander McCall Smith has a series that is gentle, uplifting, and populated with kind hearted, thoughtful people. There is a lot to learn from the stories and they always make me smile.

Reviewed by Ginger K.W. Stratton, May 2009

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