Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, et. al.

 

I have been continuing to read The no. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I will not continue to summarize them individually but will just mention again what a wonderful series it is. Pick up one and read it, and then if you also enjoyed it you will find yourself going back and finding the beginning one and reading through the whole series. Enjoy them for they are wonderful pieces of work.

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The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

by Alexander McCall Smith

 

Smith, A. M. (2005). The no. 1 ladies’ detective agency. New York: Pantheon.

This is Smith’s first in the series by the same title. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency takes place in Botswana and features the excellent Mma Precious Ramotswe. She inherits money from the sale of her father’s cattle when he is dying and he encourages her to open a business for herself. He was thinking more along the lines of a butchers or bottle store, but Mma Ramotswe opens up the first detective agency run by a woman in Botswana. She is quite successful since she uses her natural intelligence and understanding of how people work to solve the cases brought to her.

She uncovers a long lost daddy who is not really the daddy, confirms the reason for the disappearance of a husband, returns a stolen car, finds a lost boy, and solves many other cases in this first book. We also get a bit of background on Mma Ramotswe’s life and her own family.

I actually read Tea Time for the Traditionally Built first and then went back to read this book. This series is wonderful because you can read the books out of order and still enjoy them and not feel you are missing lots of important information. Again, this is a wonderful series that is perfect for summer reading.

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

by Alexander McCall Smith

 

Smith, A. M. (2009). Tea time for the traditionally built. New York: Pantheon.

 

This is the latest in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I must confess that it is the first I have read although this author and this series have been on my “to read” list for years. I am glad I finally got around to it and will be going back and reading the earlier ones as soon as I can procure them.

The action takes place in Botswana with Mma Precious Ramotswe running the detective agency and narrating the story. She has an assistant, Mma Makutsi who helps with the agency and in this story has some problems of her own. Mma Makutsi is engaged to a well off furniture store owner, Phuti Radiphuti, but a rival, Violet Sephotho, is trying to steal him away.

Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe gets a large case, as Rra Molofololo, owner of the local football team (soccer to Americans) the Kalahari Swoops, engages her to find out why the team is suddenly losing games. The answer is simple yet one easily overlooked by a busy, self important owner.

In the end the cases have a happy solution (I’m not going to spoil if for you—read the book), but Mma Ramotswe does lose her old small white van (we’ll have to see if she is able to get it back).

A wonderful series, quick and easy for busy folks and folks who want some relaxing reading. If you haven’t already, read one of the books in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. They are stand alone books so you can pick up any one, but having read the latest I am going to try to read the beginning ones.

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

Christie, A. (1962). The pale horse. London: Collins.

This is a wonderful mystery featuring Mark Easterbrook. He is not a detective and doesn’t even claim to be an amateur detective.  He is an author who stumbles upon a strange sequence of events and decides he must look into it because in the beginning the police cannot.  

A dying woman confesses to a priest and he writes down a list of names – all of whom died. The priest is coshed in the head before he can tell anyone anything. A pharmacist insists that he saw a man following the priest, but the man he describes in a polio victim in a wheel chair.  People mention strange goings on at a place called The Pale Horse. It is a former pub now a home to 3 older women with a reputation as witches and mediums. One claims she can cause people to die by somehow thinking the suggestion to them and letting their body’s natural desire for death take over.

Mark Easterbrook and his friend Ginger and the police detectives do some undercover work and uncover the ring of people who are offering to get rid of someone for a price. The process is covered in layers of deception and ritual, but how it is actually done and by whom is much simpler and down to earth.

A wonderful read, different from the more popular Poirot or Miss Marple mysteries, but quite enjoyable.

Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

Fowler, C. (2006). Ten second staircase. New York: Bantam.

This is yet another in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) Mysteries series. Again, Fowler has us following multiple mysteries. One concerns the Leister Square Vampire—an ongoing cold case more than 30 years old. The other is a string of murders committed by someone called The Highwayman.

First an installation artist, Saralla White, is found floating upside down in her exhibit – dead. Then Danny Martell, a TV host and teen lifestyle guru with a dubious record, is found electrocuted in a gym. He was alone at the time—no one entered the room after he did. Alexander Paradine, an alternative comedian related to the Earl of Devonshire, and Anthony Sarne are killed around the same time. Paradine is lured to an abandoned building to do a voice over for a commercial in a sound studio. Instead he falls through a hole in the floor neatly hidden with rug tiles—four stories down plus a basement kills him. Sarne is taking a shower after swimming in a public pool at night when someone pours petrol through the shower pipe and then drops a match through a hole in the glass roof.

WARNING…  ENDING SPOILER– do not continue if you don’t want to hear the ending!

The PCU folks are under threat of closure unless they solve the rash of murders and provide light in the Leister Square Vampire mystery. As it turns out, both are somehow connected. A private school teacher, Brilliant Kingsmere, just happens to be the son of the Leister Square Vampire. The Highwayman, turns out not to be a man at all but a group of Kingsmere’s students who together commit these acts of murder because they are bored and feel dead to the world.