Alexander McCall Smith. The House of Unexpected Sisters. New York: Pantheon, 2017. Print. No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories make readers happy—that is well known. The latest of Smith’s low-key Botswanan mysteries is no exception.
Some things never change. Mma Makutsi is still looking for status. While Mma Ramotswe is reluctant to call her co-director of the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency, since Grace Makutsi is overseeing one aspect of a new investigation, she names herself the Chief Investigating Officer.
The main plot centers around Charity who was unfairly dismissed from her job at an office furniture store and warehouse. In the course of looking into Charity’s story, Precious Ramotswe discovers a newspaper account of a Mingie Ramotswe, a nurse who looks enough like Precious to be her sister. Another mystery.
We discover that the owner of the business from which Charity was fired is planning to go into the home furniture business as well and has a plan to eliminate the competition within a year. The main competition is Phuti Ranaphuti’s Double Comfort Furniture Store. Rra Ranaphuti is, of course, Gace Makutsi’s husband.
Charity’s story may not hold water but Grace supports her because she is also a graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College and was also treated poorly by (readers can guess…drum roll)—Violet Sephoto. Mma Sephoto lurks in the background of many of these stories as a kind of Moriarty or McCavity.
What is the story? Does Precious Ramotswe have a relative she had never known about? Is Violet Sephoto really trying to make the lives of more people miserable?
Grab a cup of red bush tea and smile.