This is one of those “bubble bath for the brain” series that I used to love turning to after heavy reads. I lost track of it for years and now I’m several books behind. I’m both pleased and dismayed that McCall Smith is still cranking one of these out every year; pleased because I enjoy my brain bubble baths, dismayed because this book feels a bit like MS is out of ideas and is just ticking established character traits off a checklist.
Mma Ramotswe drinks red bush tea and drives her tiny white van and repeatedly declares herself “traditionally built”: check.
Mma Makutsi adjusts her round glasses, covets higher status in the agency, and has conversations with her shoes: check.
Motholeli and Puso briefly make an appearance and do cute well-adjusted children stuff: check.
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni relates current events/people to cars: check.
Charlie and Fanwell say or do something foolish: double check.
Mma Potokwani bosses people around and serves fruit cake: check.
Violet Sephotho is vain and somehow the villain: check.
I could keep going, but I’m sure you get the idea. Added to the increasing feeling of same-old, same-old is a growing suspicion that the author is now on auto-pilot, and that’s why all these characters are sort of stagnating and we’re getting awkward pull-me-out-of-the-story things like a white man from Muncie, Indiana speaking with the exact same syntax as the residents of Gaborone. I’m hoping this is just me or the author having an off-book, so to speak, and not a sign that the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency should have shut its doors on a higher note back in book 12.
I enjoyed my little visit to McCall Smith’s version of Botswana, but not nearly as much as I used to. Here’s hoping the magic is back in the next book.