by Alexander McCall Smith
started 7/10/07 finished 7/15/07
There were a couple of factors that prevented me from reading this series:
- I considered it an “old lady book”. There are certain books that Southern old ladies read. They are usually set in a small quaint town. The main characters knit, bake pies, and sometimes solve mysteries (Murder She Wrote).
- Although the characters are African, the author is of European descent. I make it a point not to read books with majority Black characters written by White people. I never think they get the “voice” right. (Exception to this rule: George Pelecanos and Barbara Hambly in her Benjamin January mysteries set in slavery-era New Orleans). Case in point: I used to read the James Patterson books that featured Alex Cross. The lead character is black and it is set in Washington, D.C. No brainer. There is a scene in one of the books where Alex is speaking with a visitor on his front porch. I don’t remember the details, but there is a short exchange with his young son in which the child responds with a curse word! In front of company! On the front porch! Alex may have said something benign like “watch your language”or something. A real black parent in inner city Washington, D.C. would have made such a show of beating his ass that the whole neighborhood would have come out on their porches to watch.
But, then I read reports that a television movie was being made based on The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. The cast includes Jill Scott, Anika Noni Rose, & Idris Elba. So I gave in and read it. The story follows an African woman, Precious Ramotswe, living in Botswana who uses money inherited from her father’s passing to open a detective agency, the first one opened by a woman in the whole country. She has no formal training and pretty much uses her common sense. Each chapter tells the story of a different case so it almost reads like a book of short stories. Smith successfully captures the voice of the African people that reside in these pages. It was a fast read and I look forward to reading the next 6 titles in the series.
Now, if they do to this book what they did to The Starter Wife…