Friday, March 3, 2017

Review of Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (2002, Anchor)

Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s finest female private detective and owner of The No 1. Ladies Detective Agency, has become engaged to Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, owner of the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors garage. It appears to be a perfect match, though Mr Matekoni’s maid does not think so. But Precious has little regard for the maid who has been taking advantage of Mr Matekoni’s kindness and blindness, nor for her betrothed’s home. The maid is not the only person to be exploiting Mr Matekoni’s good nature. He is left fretting about an engagement ring, the water pumps at a nearby orphanage, and the future of two orphans. Meanwhile, Precious takes on two cases – the disappearance of a young American at an experimental farm on the edge of the Kalahari ten years previously and tracking the activities of a wayward wife – and deals with ambitions of her talented secretary. She also unexpectedly finds her prospective family is four not two.

Tears of the Giraffe is the second book in the No 1. Ladies Detective Agency series following the exploits of Precious Ramotswe. The tale is written very much in the tradition of a cozy, with a gentle charm and humour, with the storyline as much about the everyday lives of the protagonists as about the solving of crimes. The real strength of the story are the lead characters of Precious and her husband-to-be, Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, a garage owner, who leap off the page as engaging, delightful folk. There is some nice, light reflections on moral philosophy stirred in and a dose of intrigue concerning a scheming maid, a wayward wife, and a long-missing American.  The plotlines around the intrigue, however, are somewhat thin and underdeveloped, with Precious solving one through some fairly weak plot devices, one halting abruptly, and the other being quite simple in nature. That said, the charm of the book are the characters, their interactions, and the sense of place. An enjoyable, feel-good read.

1 comment:

Mathew Paust said...

I enjoyed this one and several others in the series, gifts from my ex-wife (before we were exes). I agree with you, Rob--charming and enjoyable.