by Bruce TierneyMay, 2003
Looking out for No. 1
Halfway across the planet in the African nation of Botswana, Mma Precious Ramotswe conducts a very different sort of sleuthing. The Kalahari Typing School for Men marks the fourth installment in Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has taken the mystery world by storm. Mma Ramotswe, operating from a small office in back of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, her boyfriend's auto repair shop, must confront a new sort of problem: a competing detective agency run by a man. And not just any man, but Cephas Buthulezi, an arrogant and sexist fellow, more than a little dismissive of the detecting abilities of a mere woman. It doesn't help that her new competitor, The Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency, is based in a high-tech (for Botswana), attractive downtown location. Meanwhile, Ramotswe's assistant, Grace Makutsi, is growing older without a man, a situation that causes her much consternation. She decides to open a typing school for men, a dual purpose endeavor that should earn her a bit of extra money, and perhaps broaden her horizons vis-ˆ-vis the male population of Botswana. The travails of Ramotswe and Makutsi as they pursue their sometimes divergent goals make for some very entertaining reading, both riotously humorous and quietly profound.