Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith

In the life of Precious Ramotswe - a woman duly proud of her fine traditional build - there is rarely a dull moment, and the latest instalment in the universally beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series there is much happening on Zebra Drvie and Tlokweng Road. Mma Ramotswe is experiencing staffing difficulties. First, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni asks to be put in charge of a case involving an errant husband. But can a man investigate such matters as successfully as the number one lady detective can? Then Mma Ramotswe has a minor falling out with her assistant Mma Makutsi, who decides to leave the agency, taking her near-perfect secretarial skills with her.

Along the way, Mma Ramotswe is asked to investigate a couple of tricky cases. Will she be able to explain an unexpected series of deaths at the hospital in Mochudi? And what about the missing office supplies at the local printing company? These are the types of question that Mma Ramotswe is uniquely well suited to answer.

In the end, whatever happens, she knows she can count on Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, who stands for all that is solid and true in a shifting world, and there is always her love of Botswana, a country of which she is justifiably proud.

I always enjoy reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, and this book, which is the eighth in the series following on from Blue Shoes and Happiness, was no exception. There was a lot going on in the agency and the Tlokweng Road Motors, and there are lots of staff developments in this book as well.

Mma Makutsi is now an engaged woman, but she is still as opinionated and headstrong as ever, but now it is beginning to upset some people. to the extent that both Mma Makutsi and Mma Ramotswe are beginning to feel it in their own relationship. Staff upsets are the last thing that is needed given how busy they are at the moment, but maybe this was just a matter of time. The question is can Mma Makutsi find a glamourous new job, and how will the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency cope without her superior secretarial skills.

In addition, Mr J L B Matekoni has decided that he wants the chance to investigate a case, and so when a client drops by when no one else is around he decides that he will investigate the case of the unfaithful husband, and Precious very graciously allows him to do so, despite her own misgivings, and he does do quite well. Mr Matekoni has his own staffing issues when one of his apprentices wants to leave in order to start his own taxi firm.

In the meantime, there is also the case of the missing stationery items at the local printing firm, and also the case of the mysterious deaths of three people, in the same bed, at around the same time within weeks of each other at Mochudi hospital.

The biggest positive for me in this book was that there seemed to be a bit more character development in the secondary characters in this book than we have perhaps seen in previous books.

The biggest disappointment, although that may not be quite the right word, was with the main mystery in this book, and that is the one about the deaths in the hospital. The only reason I say that is because as soon as Precious started talking about the case, I knew exactly what the outcome was, because I have heard the story before. It is, I think, maybe something of an urban myth. It was still enjoyable to read, but there was certainly no surprise at the outcome for me.

All in all, another fun read. Now I just have to wait for the next one! Good thing Alexander McCall Smith is so prolific!

Rating 4/5


  1. I am trying really hard not to buy this book until I have time to read it. I love this series and am looking forward to reading this latest book. Great review, by the way! You're making it harder for me not to rush out today and buy a copy!

  2. I read this series up until the sixth one, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, I felt the books were becoming a little repetitive and boring. Maybe the story picks up in the seventh one, I'll have to try it and see.



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