In the latest book in the widely beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe takes on a case for a childhood acquaintance and finds that family relationships are always a tricky proposition—even for Botswana's premier female detective.
Mma Ramotswe has reconnected with an old friend who has been having problems with her daughter. Though Precious feels compelled to lend a hand, she discovers that getting involved in family affairs is always a delicate affair. The young woman appears to be involved with a charismatic preacher. But are his ministrations entirely of a godly nature?
Elsewhere, Charlie is also struggling with a tricky matter of the heart. He wishes to propose to his girlfriend, Queenie-Queenie, but he's struggling to come up with a bride price that will impress her father. When Queenie-Queenie's brother offers to help by giving him a job, the offer may not be quite what Charlie expected.
As always, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni will offer wise counsel, Mma Makutsi will weigh in with her opinions, and Mma Potokwane will be there with her welcome fruit cake. But in the end it will be up to Mma Ramotswe to reflect on love, family, and the nature of men and women in order to resolve family dramas and remind everyone about all the good things they have in life—so many, in fact, that it would take far too long to count them.
Smith's winning 20th No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel (after 2018's The Colors of All the Cattle) opens at a wedding, where Mma Ramotse, "doyenne of private investigators in Botswana (not that there were any others apart from her assistant, Grace Makutsi)," thinks she sees a ghost. The ghost is in fact an old friend, Calviniah Ramoroka, whose death was falsely reported in a newspaper years before. Mma Ramotse and Calviniah later meet for lunch, and Calviniah confides that her daughter, Nametso, who works as a diamond sorter in Gaborone, has suddenly started ignoring her. When Mma Ramotse investigates, she discovers that Nametso is driving an expensive car, which provides a key clue to explaining the young woman's behavior. Meanwhile, agency assistant Charlie receives a surprising proposal from his girlfriend, Queenie-Queenie, and Grace, with Charlie's help, looks into the case of an errant husband, which is more complicated than it appears. As usual, the warm, humorous interactions among the characters count more than the detecting. Smith's humanity shines throughout.