The Joy and Light Bus Company: No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 22 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
In this latest installment in the beloved No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Mma Ramotswe is tempted to put the brakes on a business venture before it even gets rolling.
“McCall Smith is a master....There’s beauty and revelation of one kind or another woven expertly into every line.” (The Christian Science Monitor)
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni attends a course hosted by the local chamber of commerce entitled “Where Is Your Business Going?”. But rather than feeling energized, he comes back in low spirits, unsure how to grow the already venerable and successful Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Then an old friend from school approaches him about a new business venture that could be just the ticket. When it turns out he will need to mortgage his property in order to pursue this endeavor, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi wonder what this will mean for his current business - as well as their own.
Even as she puzzles over mysteries on the domestic front, Mma Ramotswe’s professional duties must take precedence. When a concerned son learns that his aging father’s nurse now stands to inherit the family home, he begins to doubt her intentions and takes his case to Botswana’s premier detective agency. Fortunately, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are committed agents of justice and agree to investigate.
Tricky as these matters may be, Mma Ramotswe knows that the most creative solutions are often found with the support of loving friends and family. Working together over a cup of red bush tea, she and Mma Makutsi will rely on their tact, humor, and goodwill to ensure that all involved find the happiness that they deserve.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 8 minutes|
|Author||Alexander McCall Smith|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 16, 2021|
|Publisher||Recorded Books, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #8,733 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#43 in Private Investigator Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
#49 in Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
#66 in Cozy Mysteries (Audible Books & Originals)
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Here the detectives’ concerns include a client worried that a younger woman is exploiting his aging and wealthy father and, for Mma Ramotswe, that an old school chum could be taking similar advantage of her husband, stuck in a mid-life crisis.
No surprise that the situations prove to be more nuanced than they seem at first because that’s the way life is. And Violet Sephotho makes an early appearance, perhaps to remind readers that human nature is imperfect—a delicate touch in a book otherwise full of joy and light.
Wonderfully written, as always.
The son of a wealthy man is convinced that the nurse who cares for his elderly and ailing father has wickedly prevailed on him to leave her the rural estate where they live.
A 12-year-old girl at the Orphan Farm, escaped from domestic slavery in a wealthy home in the capital, says that two other youngsters are still held there against their will.
And Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, Precious’ loyal and loving husband, attends a motivational seminar for small business owners. There, he meets a childhood friend who is now a big success. The friend wants him to join as a partner in a risky scheme to start a bus company—and to do so he’ll have to mortgage the premises where both the detective agency and the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors repair shop are located.
GETTING TO THE TRUTH WITH CARE AND CONCERN
Together with her exasperating secretary, Mma Grace Makutsi, who has promoted herself to “senior co-managing director” in the agency, Mma Ramotswe must somehow get to the truth behind each of these three troublesome reports—and find ways to resolve the dilemmas they pose in the most caring way she can. Thus begins the 22nd entry in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by the prolific Scots author Alexander McCall Smith.
CELEBRATING AFRICAN TRADITION AND VALUES
McCall Smith idealizes Africa’s traditional values of love for the land, the people, and the communities they forge. Mma Ramotswe’s thoughts turn again and again to her memories of the late Obed Ramotswe, the wise man who raised prize cattle and gave life to her. She and Mma Makutsi both cling proudly to their identification with the villages where they were born and raised, Precious in relative comfort, Grace in poverty.
There is corruption and wrongdoing in the country, and AIDS rages in the background, but we gain only glimpses of the damage they do. Evil is personified in a handful of rich and greedy families, an occasional criminal, and in the person of Violet Sephotho, Grace’s glamorous classmate at the Secretarial School who steals husbands and constantly connives to undermine the lady detectives. Mma Ramotse makes her way through this world acting as though people are good, and only rarely is she disappointed. And she laments the passing of the “old ways.”
HAPPINESS FOR ONE AND ALL
Here, for example, Mma Ramotswe muses about happiness. “Both sexes, she thought, might give some thought to the happiness of the other. She knew that there were some women who did not care much about men, and who would not be bothered too much if there were large numbers of discontented men, but she did not think that way herself. Such women, she thought, were every bit as selfish as those men who seemed not to care about the happiness of women. We should all care about each other, she felt, and it made no difference whether an unhappy person was a man or a woman. Any unhappiness, in anybody at all, was a shame. It was as simple as that: it was a shame.”
FORGET THE AFRICAN STEREOTYPES: THIS IS BOTSWANA
Understanding these charming little novels requires at least a cursory knowledge of the city and country where they’re set. Botswana is a large, landlocked country in south-central Africa bordered on the south by South Africa, on the west by Namibia, and on the north by Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Though it’s nearly the size of Texas, Botswana is home to just 2.4 million people. It’s one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Nearly 70 percent of its territory is the huge Kalahari Desert. The capital city of Gaborone, where Precious Ramotswe lives, has a population of 276,000. It’s the size of Chula Vista, California, or Durham, North Carolina. Which means, of course, that it’s no surprise Mma Ramotswe could so often run into people she knows.
Although Botswana has been inhabited for 200,000 years, it lost its independence in the 19th-century Scramble for Africa. It first became a German colony and then a British protectorate known as Bechuanaland. The country regained its independence in 1966 and has been a stable democracy ever since. In recent years, despite the terrible toll of the AIDS epidemic, Botswana has become one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and is now ranked as a middle-income nation. Seretse Khama, the country’s beloved first president, is one of Precious Ramotswe’s heroes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexander McCall Smith was born in 1948 in what is now the nation of Zambia. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, where he received his LLB and PhD degrees in law, he later co-founded the law school and taught law at the University of Botswana. As Wikipedia notes, “He settled in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1984. He and his wife Elizabeth, a physician, . . . lived there for almost 30 years, raising their two daughters. Nearby lived the authors J. K. Rowling, Ian Rankin, and Kate Atkinson.” McCall Smith reportedly writes 2,000 to 3,000 words a day. He has produced scores of novels, including two other long-running series (44 Scotland Street and The Sunday Philosophy Club) as well as the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. McCall Smith is also a renowned expert on law and medical ethics. He has authored thirteen legal texts.
Either the author is getting tired of his characters, or I am, or both. I felt this way, though not as strongly, with #18 or #19, can't remember which. But I stuck with it nevertheless.
Perhaps if this were a stand-alone, and I wasn't familiar with the characters and their back-stories, I'd have been more entertained.
If #23 is released, I'll probably skip it and wait for the final book to see how McCall Smith wraps things up. I'll be sad to see his delightful characters go, but it's time.
Top reviews from other countries
It was almost three full chapters before there was even a hint of a story, just page after page of Precious Ramotswe's thoughts on various irrelevant topics. Grace Makutsi seemed to have regressed in her behaviour back to her immature start 20 years ago. Very lazy writing, no longer pleasant story telling.
In this book, the problems are particularly close to home for Mma Ramotswe as her husband is approached to invest in a new business venture, and her friend, Mma Potokwani, takes-in an abused child…
It’s always a pleasure to read one of ‘The No1 Ladies Detective Agency’ series, and this novel encapsulates all that is good about these books: The investigations are entertaining, there are wonderful descriptions of Botswana’s flora, fauna, and culture, and the entire story leaves you with an overriding sense of hope for humanity. It’s full of philosophical ‘problems’ but, as always, Mme Ramotswe is guided to the solutions by her innate kindness and understanding of human nature.
Overall: Crime fiction doesn’t come much gentler than this. It’s very much a story with kindness and kinship at its heart.