Tears of the Giraffe
had a similar effect on me to that of it's predecessor in the series. McCall Smith creates main characters that I adore. He idealizes Botswana, making the country and its people (as a group at least) extremely lovable. Botswana has few guns when compared to South Africa/Johannesburg. It has avoided the superficiality of the United States. Aspects of the "old morality"--politeness, proper handshakes, hard work, honor, care of elders, etc.--remain intact. McCall Smith paints a somewhat utopian picture of Botswana and its upstanding citizens. But that utopian veneer proves fragile throughout the story. A college professor uses his power to assign grades to get students into bed. A maid tries to plant a gun and secretly uses her employer's bed for prostitution. Witch doctors use children's body parts to heal and curse. Women encounter glass ceilings at their workplaces. Unbeknownst to one husband, a woman splits time raising her son with a second husband. Friends and family murder each other. Populations discriminate against one another. Clearly, Botswana is situated "East of Eden" just like every other place on Earth.
But it's McCall Smith's humor and gentle treatment of Botswana and characters like Precious Ramotswe, J.L.B. Matekoni, and Mma Makutsi that has made me fall in love with this series. The scenes where Precious and J.L.B. welcome orphans into their lives, and where Precious names an exceedingly grateful Mma Makutsi as her assistant detective are so touching! And the beautiful, idealized imagery of the land suits the cozy mystery genre very well. McCall Smith is an extremely talented writer, making these cozy mysteries such a joy to read.
Thus far, I've experienced nothing in reading The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
series that would lead me to deduct a star. A well-deserved five stars for Tears of the Giraffe