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Precious and Grace: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (17)


Precious and Grace: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (17)

Susan, a young woman born to Canadian diplomats in Botswana, comes back to Gaborone 30 years later to retrace her roots. Her parents returned to Canada when she was eight years old, and she yearns to revisit the home in which she lived. She is especially keen on locating her caregiver, Rosie, whose last name she never knew. Rosie seems to have left a lasting impression on the child, so Susan turns to Precious Ramotswe at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to locate Rosie for a reunion.

Fanwell is the head mechanic at the auto garage owned by Precious’ husband next to the detective agency. He shows up one morning with a dog he rescued from a poor district of Gaborone. The pooch has already attached himself to Fanwell, and the feeling appears to be mutual. Precious caves in and promises to either keep him at the agency or find him a home. Grace Makutsi, whose title at the agency seems to fluctuate, is not a dog lover and objects, but since Fanwell cannot keep him in his crowded family home, it appears that the agency has a watchdog over her protestations.

"Smith, who was born in what was formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, writes of Africa with the love and heartache that only a native son can feel, albeit a Scotsman by blood."

The ladies learn that a part-time employee appears to have been gulled into a pyramid scheme and is going around town collaring people, trying to talk them into making a huge return on their substantial investment. Precious, ever cautious, investigates and plans a clever way to keep her employee from going to jail. As usual, she puts her sleuthing skills to work resolving these seemingly minor dilemmas that sometimes turn into serious problems. Is sometimes the lost better not found? Are old friendships worth preserving if there are larger questions at stake?

For the millions of worldwide fans, the release of a new No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel is a welcomed event. In PRECIOUS AND GRACE, Precious, the first and still only female detective in Botswana, finds herself corralling the entrepreneurial enthusiasm of Grace, who continues to promote herself from secretary to personal assistant to executive assistant, and ultimately would like to elevate herself to a partnership with Precious.

Granted, Grace has gained many sleuthing skills in the 17-novel journey through a number of captivating adventures with clients who show up on the doorstep on Tlokweng Road. The division of tasks has become more and more blurred as Grace sneakily tries to take over clients, sometimes behind Precious’ back. Precious is never fooled, but keeps a sharp eye out with concerns that Grace will jump to conclusions or, worse, insult someone with one of her snide remarks.

Precious is a woman of traditional build, which she likes to remind herself of as she goes for a second or third helping of a friend’s fruit cake. Her generosity in size reflects the largess of her gentle and kindly way of settling differences. Whether it is between clients or her employees, she handles disputes with the diplomacy of a Secretary of State. Grace, on the other hand, charges forth with the assuredness of a knight on a crusade, sometimes with messy consequences. But sometimes she’s right. And when she’s right, it’s a well-proven fact, one that she never lets anyone forget.

Alexander McCall Smith’s creation of these two women in a corner of the world probably none of us have ever visited brings to vivid life the culture, history, and sense of place and time that until recently has stood still. On the edge of the great Kalahari Desert, Botswana boasts some of the widest array of African wildlife in the world. But tourism, modernization and technology all bring changes that continue to erode the old ways. Smith, who was born in what was formerly known as Northern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, writes of Africa with the love and heartache that only a native son can feel, albeit a Scotsman by blood.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on October 14, 2016

Precious and Grace: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (17)
by Alexander McCall Smith

  • Publication Date: May 30, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • ISBN-10: 1101972815
  • ISBN-13: 9781101972816