Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Book Review: The Kalahari Typing School For Men by Alexander McCall Smith

The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #4)

The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #4)
Author:  Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher:  Pantheon Books (2002)
186 pages
Genre:  Mystery

"I must remember, thought Mma Ramotswe, how fortunate I am in this life; at every moment, but especially now, sitting on the verandah of my house in Zebra Drive, and looking up at the high sky of Botswana, so empty that the blue is almost white."

The fourth book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series begins with Precious Ramotswe counting her blessings.  While she is still engaged to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, they have not yet set a date for their wedding.  The offices of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency have moved and now share a building with Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, whose proprietor is Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni.  While he was ill, Mma Makutsi kept the garage running.  In fact, she did such a great job, that Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni would like to keep her on as assistant manager.  So, she will have two jobs, assistant manager at the garage, and assistant detective to Mma Ramotswe.  Will she be content with this?  Wouldn't she be happier if she had a man in her life?  Even with two jobs, money is scarce and Mma Makutsi cares for her brother.  She must find another way to make money.  Perhaps a driving school?  Or maybe a typing school for men?

For many years, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency has been the only detective agency in Botswana.  So when the ladies hear of another agency that has come to town, they must check it out.  Mma Ramotswe continues to care for the orphans and has some trouble with the boy, Puso, so she seeks out the advice of Mma Silvia Potokwani, the matron of the orphan farm.  In addition to all of this, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency has two clients.  One thinks her husband is having an affair and the other wants to right some wrongs from his past.

This was a delightful read.  I always enjoy Precious Ramotswe's unassuming, no-nonsense attitude.  Each book continues to be fresh and enjoyable.


"That was the trouble with people in general:  they were surprisingly unrealistic in their expectations."

"And for those large glasses which Mma Makutsi wore, there might be some who would find them a little bit intimidating, but many other men simply would fail to notice them, in much the same way as they failed to notice what women were wearing in general, no matter what efforts women made with their clothing."

"The trouble with men, of course, was that they went about with their eyes half closed for much of the time.  Sometimes Mma Ramotswe wondered whether men actually wanted to see anything, or whether they decided that they would notice only the things that interested them.  That was why women were so good at tasks which required attention to the way people felt.  Being a private detective, for example, was exactly the sort of job at which a woman could be expected to excel (and look at the success of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency)."

"The shoes themselves were light green, with lowish heels (which were very important for comfort and walking; high heels were always a temptation, but, like all temptations, one paid for them later)."

"He felt weary.  Life was a battle against wear; the wear of machinery and the wear of the soul.  Oil. Grease. Wear."

"She had a great respect for books herself, and she wished that she had read more.  One could never read enough.  Never."

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