I had already put Alexander McCall Smith’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency on my reading list for the R.I.P. V Challenge when Karen over at How Mysterious gave a great review to the second audio book in that series. With a trip to New Jersey looming, and a 1-book credit on audible.com burning a hole in my digital pocket, I decided to download the audio book.
Another great call, Karen.
Precious Ramotswe is a gatherer – a gatherer of people, a gatherer of skills and a gatherer of information. A non-traditional woman in a traditional but changing society, Mma Ramotswe takes her inheritance and puts her considerable deductive powers to work by opening Botswana’s first female owned and operated detective agency. As a new business owner, she takes almost any case that comes her way, from tracking down pampered pooches to exposing insurance cheats. She constructs each case as a puzzle, and she uses her knowledge of Botswana –culture, flora, fauna, history – to make the pieces of the puzzle fit.
I especially loved the idea of having Precious solve lots of different mysteries, rather than have the book dominated by one case: you got to know her and the supporting cast of characters better as you encounter both her successes and failures during her first months on the job. And there’s a good deal of humor to go along with the sleuthing, because Precious can both laugh at herself and laugh at the world.
This is a particularly engaging audio book. With Lisette Lecat’s African-accented narration, the story truly springs to life. I loved Lecat’s graceful pronunciation of the Setswanan names, and the changes in her voice that signaled different characters were consistent, clear and never cutesy. The only thing I might have wished for was some of the sounds of Botswana – fires crackling at a cattle station, traditional music drifting from a neighbor’s turntable, birds calling from the thorn bushes.
It’s been a long time since a book prompted me to think about traveling to some way-out destination, but I found myself trolling the Internet for photo safaris in Botswana when I got home from New Jersey today. That’s the transportational power of a good read in action.