Title: The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Opening line: ‘…Mma Ramotswe had by no means forgotten her late white van …’
Blurb: At a remote cattle post south of Gaborone two cows have been killed, and Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s No. 1 Lady Detective, is asked to investigate by a rather frightened and furtive gentleman. It is an intriguing problem with plenty of suspects – including, surprisingly, her own client. In addition to this Mma Ramotswe is haunted by a vision of her dear old white van, and Grace Makutsi witnesses it as well. Is it the ghost of her old mechanical friend, has it risen from the junkyard? Added to the mix one of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s apprentices may have gotten a girl pregnant and, under pressure to marry her, has run away. Naturally, it is up to Precious to help sort things out. Also in the background their old foe, Violet Sephotho, has launched run for the Botswana Parliament; and Grace has a wedding to plan.
My thoughts: When I pick up a book from The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series I have certain expectations. I expect a slower pace and to reacquaint myself with familiar friends who have traditional values such respect for people, for property and to have manners. In fact if someone doesn’t portray these values then they are usually the ‘baddie’.
THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY, the twelfth in the series, opens a few weeks before Mma Makutsi’s long awaited wedding. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency takes on a new case with a client who makes a big fuss about not wanting to meet Precious Ramotswe in the office. Someone has killed two of his cattle and he would like Mma Ramotswe to find out who and why. As well as doing her detecting work Precious needs to solve various domestic issues such as sorting out the problem of Charlie the apprentice, stop an old enemy from being voted into parliament and solve the mystery of the ghost van. I love spending time in Botswana with Precious; she makes me smile and her story relaxes and soothes me as I read. In fact I now drink Red Bush tea myself – and it is a wonderful brew to sip while you are reading about detecting. The characters are all charming, they grow in character every book and the stories are a wonderful peek into another culture that in many ways is not dissimilar to our own.
My one tiny niggle with the story was my feeling of being left out of the Botswana wedding celebrations. After all the back story build-up and preparations, when the day arrived it was a bit – well – meh! I wanted drums, I wanted music I wanted colour – but there was none of that. Otherwise I have really enjoyed this series, a blend of wit and wisdom I hear someone very accurately described them, and thankfully I still have a couple to go before I catch up.
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B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.