The Miracle at Speedy Motors – Review

Alexander McCall Smith. The Miracle at Speedy Motors. New York: Pantheon, 2008. Print. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Short, easy-reading, but a true novel with multiple plots—this is the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This time Mma Ramotswe has been hired to find an orphan’s birth family, but she discovers a reason why no one who knows the truth wants her client to find out who her parents were. Mma Ramotswe is also receiving threatening letters.

Precious Ramotswe’s partner, Mma Makutsi, is engaged to Phuti Rhadaphuti, but her uncles want 97 cows for a bride price. Precious’s uncles got ten when she married Mr. J. L. B. Maketoni, and the consensus around town is that Grace is worth about eight.

Rra Maketoni wants to take their adopted daughter Motholeli to Johannesburg to see if some specialists can make her walk again. And Grace is hired to find out if a certain tenant signed a lease under false pretenses.

Those are the basic conflicts of the novel. Here are some of the things that get them more complicated: a double bed with a large velvet heart on the headboard, mechanical problems at the orphanage, mnemonic problems at the orphanage, eternal apprentice Charlie’s male chauvinism, a banker who really does not care for women, and the onset of rainy season. Grace also wonders if Phuti’s car with its prominent red racing stripe is really the best vehicle for shadowing suspects.

“…it is always sad when people try to do things they cannot do,” said Mma Potokawe. (152)

One did not have to be famous to be remembered in Botswana; there was room in history for all of us.

…evil repaid with retribution, with punishment, had achieved half its goal; evil repaid with kindness was shown to be what it really was, a small petty thing, not something frightening at all, but something pitiable, a paltry affair. (205)

Wise words for all of us.

The Miracle at Speedy Motors is realistic in the sense that not everything works out. The miracles may not be spectacular, but they are special. If your heart is even a mere two degrees warmer than Scrooge’s, you will finish this book with a smile. Precious and Grace mean happiness for the reader.

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