Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

There’s something very comforting about this series. It’s like settling down on a rainy night with a thick blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.  If you’re already a fan of the series, then you’ll need no urging to pick up this latest volume – in fact, you may well have done so already, but if you’re not familiar with these books, let me recommend that you make their acquaintance forthwith.

They’re set in Botswana, a country in Southern Africa but very little of modern African politics intrudes into the narrative. Very soon, you slip into the slow-paced way of life that carries the characters along like a sluggish river flowing gently to the sea. There’s no bad language, no real violence and no unpleasantness that isn’t resolved by the end of the book. In fact, it’s a perfect antidote to the contemporary obsession with grittiness.

I can’t really sum up the plot of any of the books because the plot isn’t what’s most important about them. It’s the time spent in the company of the characters that’s really what makes these books. By this volume, the thirteenth in the series, opening the pages feels like dropping in on old friends for a cup of tea. In fact, almost one whole chapter is spent discussing the merits of making and serving tea – but it doesn’t matter. Some people, who like fast-paced action and excitement may cavil at the laid-back pace but let them stick with their hard-boiled, cynical and ultra-realistic reading matter. I may join them, but only as long as I can pop back to Botswana to wind down from time to time. These books give me just such an opportunity.  

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