Precious and Grace – Review

Alexander McCall Smith. Precious and Grace. New York: Pantheon, 2016. Print. No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

Precious Ramotswe has got to be one of the most endearing characters in fiction. Precious and Grace is the latest installment form the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Precious solves the mystery she is hired for as well as one on the side. Typical of the series, the solution is not as straightforward as it first appears.

This time a thirty-five year-old single woman from Canada who lived in Botswana until she was eight comes to the agency looking for information. She wants to find her old house in Gabarone and her childhood nurse named Rosie. All she has is a photograph of her with Rosie in front of the corner of a tract house. She still speaks some Setswana and tells Precious and her “co-director” Grace Makutsi that she has always felt Botswana was her real home.

Meanwhile, it appears that Grace and another dear friend of Mma Ramotswe have invested some money in a Ponzi scheme. Supposedly an organization is buying skinny cattle from the drought-ravaged north a low price, driving them south where there is less drought, and fattening them up for sale at a twenty-five percent profit. Precious’s late father was a cattleman, and there are just too many details that do not make sense to her.

In both of these cases, there is more than meets the eye. Precious Ramotswe and the author Mr. Smith have a way that gets to the heart of the matter. Indeed, the Grace in the title may refer to Mma Makutsi, but it refers just as much to the virtue of grace itself.

Oh, and Grace’s nemesis Violet Sephoro continues to torment her, as indirectly as it may be. And the men at Speedy Motors have to figure out what to do about a stray dog that they have helped and that seems to have adopted them.

Of course, we hear more wisdom from Mma Ramotswe’s mentor, Clovis Andersen:

The obvious is often very obvious—not just a little bit obvious, but glaringly obvious. Yet we fail to notice it and, when we do, we are astonished we did not see it much earlier. (122)

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