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Cannonball Read #47: The Double Comfort Safari Club

05/17/2010

The Double Comfort Safari Club is the eleventh book in this series by Alexander McCall Smith’s. Precious Ramotswe is the proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and she is a thoughtful, careful sleuth.  Set in Botswana, each of the novels focus on a couple of mysteries along with the life of Precious and her friends.

This particular installment has the agency’s assistant detective,  Mma (the traditional Botswana title for women) Makutsi,  finding out that her fiance has been in a terrible car accident. Mma Makutsi must deal with her fiance’s interfering aunt — respect for elders is strong in Botswana, and so she must figure out how to handle this situation and get back in touch with her fiance and his recuperation. In other storylines, Mma Ramotswe is approached by a lawyer regarding a bequest to  a guide at a safari camp – she is asked to find the correct man to make sure he gets the inheritance. She’s also asked by both a minister and his wife to find out if the other person is being unfaithful!

Smith writes very well in this setting. I’ve read another of his books set in the English countryside, and in that  novel  he just did not seem to be able to get inside those characters’ heads.  In this novel, and the others in the series, the language does not seem stilted or forced, but simple and beautiful. In this scene, Mma Ramotswe has just attended a sermon given by the minister mentioned above and notices someone she recognizes vaguely:

…this woman, moved by some private sorrow as much as by the words being spoken, cried almost silently, unobserved by others, apart from Mma Ramotswe, who stretched out her hand and laid it on her shoulder. Do not cry, Mma, she began to whisper, but changed her words even as she uttered them, and said quietly, Yes, you can cry, Mma. We should not tell people not to weep–we we do it because of our sympathy for them–but we really should tell them that their tears are justified and entirely right.

I always recommend this series to anyone looking for a good book, and this installment is entirely right, too.

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