The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency could be about to lose its #2 investigator in Smith’s endearing 14th installment of the bestselling Botswana-set series (after 2012’s The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection). One hardly needs the renowned deductive powers of agency head Mma Precious Ramotswe to notice the growing bulk beneath the increasingly voluminous garb of recently married second-in-command Mma Grace Makutsi. But the normally frighteningly efficient assistant stays mum as the pair try to establish whether the young “nephew” attempting to claim a dead man’s estate is in fact an imposter. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe allows herself to be snookered into figuring out who’s mounting a smear campaign against the titular beauty establishment. The two story lines work as serviceably as Mma Ramotswe’s doughty white van to propel the story forward, but the book’s appeal lies less in deduction than irrepressible characters, intriguing local lore, and bone-deep love of Africa. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/09/2013 Release date: 11/05/2013 Genre: Fiction
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