cover image The Joy and Light Bus Company

The Joy and Light Bus Company

Alexander McCall Smith. Pantheon, $27 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-31573-6

Early in Smith’s diverting 22nd No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel (after 2020’s How to Raise an Elephant), Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Speedy Motors, attends a business seminar at a Gaborone hotel, where he reconnects with entrepreneur T.K. Molefi, a friend he hasn’t seen since their school days. Mr. T.K. Molefi proposes to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni that he invest in a bus company, an idea that doesn’t go over well with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s wife, Precious Ramotswe, who’s worried such a company would fail. Her husband would require a loan, with the building housing his garage and her detective agency as collateral. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe and her prickly partner, Grace Makutsi, accept a case from Mr. Baboloki Mophephu, who suspects that the nurse to Mr. Mophephu’s elderly, mentally confused father has tricked the father into leaving her his house in his will. Along the way to satisfying solutions to both situations, Mma Ramotswe and her friends converse about such topics as the need to attend to the happiness of both men and women. As ever, Smith’s mix of solving minor crimes and kindhearted philosophical ruminations enchants. Agent: Robin Straus/Robin Straus Agency. (Nov.)