Sometimes luck happens. I found a used edition of Alexander McCall Smith 11th novel, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, which I’ve been wanting to read. It’s part of his series about a lady detective who resides in Botswana and opens the first agency in her small country. As I lived a portion of my life in that part of the world, the scenes Smith depicts, the rhythms of life he describes, flood back to me like a warm breeze through an open window.
To anyone who has yet to read the series, I heartily recommend it, but suggest the books be consumed in chronological order. Over the years, the characters have developed a patina of idiosyncrasies that are best savored in proper sequence. Starting at the beginning is good. “That is a well known fact.”*
In the 11th novel, Mma Makutsi, the assistant lady detective and a woman well along in years, is about to marry. The ceremony is planned with care but life gets in the way. Mma Makutsi ruins her wedding shoes while chasing a tiny white van her employer has sold and now regrets. A young man, who works for her employer’s husband, gets himself into trouble with a women, and the detective agency is charged with catching the miscreant who is attacking a farmer’s cattle. Happily all is resolved before Mma Matkuti’s wedding day.
If the series were set in England, rather than Botswana, one would describe these books as “cozy” mysteries. The plots have their intrigues but are free of violence. What drives the characters are their petty flaws rather than their passions. Most often, the villains are more to be pitied than judged. Smith exposes the vagaries of life and the folly of our choices. In so doing, he forces us to view our human frailties with tolerance and humor.
*a phrase repeated by Smith’s characters over the years.
Courtesy of www.bookdepository.com)