Thursday, March 6, 2008


Alexander McCall Smith's tales of Botswana, of which The Kalahari Typing School for Men is one, bear similarities to those of small-town U.S.A. but with a unique cultural slant. When Precious Ramotswe needs information for one of her detective agency's clients, she just visits a friend for a chat and a cup of tea to get the latest gossip. She is nonplussed by the sudden appearance of a rival detective agency and faces the problem head-on by going to his office to introduce herself. Despite the fact that he's all bluster and no substance, he's a former police officer, and that may be all her neighbors need to believe that he's a more qualified detective. The title refers to a venture that her assistant, Mma Makutsi, initiates as a sideline, so that men can learn what's considered to be a woman's skill in a private setting. There Mma Makutsi finds a potential love interest who, Precious discovers, is not what he seems. I knew that everything would turn out OK in the end, but I still enjoyed reading how Precious manages it, without hurting anyone's feelings.

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