Review of 'Blue Shoes and Happiness'

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith
7th book in the 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series

blue_shoes_and_happiness.jpg Mma Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is now married to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni mechanic and proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors (next door to her offices) who has taken on two apprentices: Charlie and Fanwell (the younger but more able of the two). Matekoni has now taken on an assistant of Mr. Polopetsi who, though older, is proving to be very helpful. Ramotswe is, of course, still ably assisted by Mma Grace Makuski, graduate of Botswana Secretarial College, who is now her assistant detective but who is now dating Phuti Radiphuti who owns the Double Comfort Furniture Store, feeding him dinner two nights a week (his family feeding him the other four with a special dinner on Sunday with his mother).

The cases this time around involve being hired by a trainee chef accused of blackmail after discovering her tutor is sneaking food to her husband. Another involves concern by the owner of the Mokolodi Game Reserve as to why his employees seem to be distant with an overwhelming feeling he is not being told everything. It is up to Ramotswe with her keen sense of what is wrong and right as well as getting straight to the heart of the matter to solve the cases and make everything right.

The style of the No. 1 Detective Agency books continues with Precious' concern over doing what is proper and correct as well as the overwhelming love for her life in Botswana. As with the rest of the stories, the humour here is quite light and nicely managed along with the simple and sensitive interactions of the main characters. I find this series much more readable than Smith's 44 Scotland Street series which I think is much more series in nature and soap-opera-y.

Perhaps I have a bit of a bias having lived in Africa for several years but I always wondered about the idea of a Scottish author writing about a African woman though now I think the touch here is quite light and loving. There is an obvious admiration for the country and it's people with never any condescension. Smith appears to be channeling some “inner African” spirit here. The only potential criticism might be that perhaps the storytelling here is too much story and not so much reality of what life is really like in Africa but I stand by the feeling that Smith does have a touch of the African spirit. Perhaps too much is said of the troubles in Africa, it is nice here that we have a story of something pleasant and cheerful.

A nice light read (a welcome change after my epic struggle with Mao) about the continuing daily life of the world's favourite lady detective. I very much look forward to continuing to read of Precious' daily life for years to come…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2016-08-07

Genre: African

Publisher: Abacus

Publication Date: 2006

ISBN: 9780349117720

Other reviewed books in the 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series:

Other reviewed books by Alexander McCall Smith: