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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

#1 Ladies Detective Agency--THE MIRACLE AT SPEEDY MOTORS

Alexander McCall Smith hasn’t lost his #1 Ladies Detective Agency touch in this ninth novel of the series, The Miracle at Speedy Motors. This book is as delightful a read as one can wish.

Precious Ramotswe’s homespun wisdom surfaces again as she observes life in her beloved Botswana. Her advice about how we treat one another remains universal and engenders harmony and peace. It’s advice worth taking.

In this novel, Ramotswe’s cases and life’s problems are often born of the same longing—searching for something missing which may be impossible to find. Isn’t that so often the case in life? Sometimes people think their search will need a miracle to be successful. But how does one define a miracle? In many ways, daily life is full of miracles even if we don’t always recognize them. One client, for instance, is anxious to find family members she suspects she has. What she finds is a story in itself. In another instance a real miracle must occur. Maybe it does.

Once again, Alexander McCall Smith allows the characters we have observed in the past to grow and to change. He does this well. They don’t change in leaps and bounds. It’s a matter of nuance.

Charley, the hapless, girl-crazy older apprentice emerges a bit more observant and a bit more loyal than one would have guessed.

Grace Makutsi’s relationship with her fiancĂ©, Phuti Radiphuti, goes through some tests. Can one maintain a long-lived loving relationship without honesty as a basic component even if a little lie is meant to protect?

I like the way McCall Smith places his characters in everyday situations because those are the times real people are most tempted to act expeditiously thinking this is so small an instance it really doesn’t matter. The message is clear, however, it’s in our everyday lives, our everyday dealings with people, that honesty matters most.

If you’ve enjoyed the earlier books in this charming series, you’ll certainly relish this one, and as there is still so much room for growth, I hope Alexander McCall Smith has another #1 Ladies Detective Agency book in the works.

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