It was a beautiful spring Oklahoma weekend. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. For the first time this year I found myself with free time on my hands. No weekend office work, no household chores, and no need to study for a night class I have been enrolled in this spring. With the sun shining and the patio chairs calling out for my company I grabbed a book to read and headed outside. With limited spare time to read for pleasure this year the thrill of this reading opportunity had me feeling giddy with excitement and wee bit of guilt. I quickly grabbed a sports cup, filled it with ice, water, and tossed in a few leaves of fresh mint. After locating a beach towel to toss on the lounge chair, grabbed my sunglasses, a ball cap to shade the sun, and I picked up the most recent book released by Alexander McCall Smith, The House of Unexpected Sisters.
This is one book in a series of eighteen books released to date of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Novel. I have enjoyed reading this series over the years and I anxiously await the next release each fall. They never seem to come fast enough. This book was released in the fall of 2017 and my schedule did not allow adequate time to enjoy this pleasure read. These books are not lengthy but being a binge reader, I find that a book is most enjoyable when it can be finished it in a single reading.
The series takes place in Botswana. The main character, Mma Ramotswe, is a “traditionally built” lady who solves social problems. The detective work performed is less about solving crime and more about solving issues for the locals while limiting complications for all parties in the process of solving the problem. Author Alexander Smith writes these novels from the perspective of a female and he does so with humor, descriptive character building, and gentle human kindness. When reading these books, I find myself smiling at the feminine, deductive wisdom that Mma Ramotswe and her colleague, Mma Makutsi, use when discussing and solving a case. They drink “bush tea” while sharing their thoughts about a case as they find that a cup of tea can solve most problems.
These books will leave you wanting to visit Botswana and the wonderful people that live there. The characters in the series are thoughtful, kind and charming. Alexander McCall Smith writes these stories about the people, and the land, and the reader can sense that they are there too. You can feel the land, taste the bush tea and see the family ties that bind a community.
In this book, The House of Unexpected Sisters, the story begins with a situation requiring assistance from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency on an unofficial status. As the two lady detectives set out to solve a problem for a friend they find themselves privy to information requiring the professional handling of a delicate situation that only Mma Ramotswe could finesse. She must navigate a tricky situation to resolve the issue for the friend, and she must use persuasion to convince other characters to do the same. As you might have guessed from the title of this book, there is an added twist to this release with the addition of a new relative to the endearing cast of this series. This book brings a sense of closure to old relationships of the past, and introduces new relationships for the future. Alexander McCall Smith keeps the characters interesting and his readers waiting for the next mystery of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
If you haven’t read a good, slice of life, book in some time, I highly recommend this read. Start with the first book in the series and you will have endless hours of reading enjoyment.