To the Land of Long Lost Friends by Alexander McCall Smith is the next delightful instalment in the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. This is Mma Ramotswe’s twentieth foray into the pursuit of investigations of cases brought to her by clients.
When Precious Ramotswe and her husband, Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, attend a local Botswana wedding she is amazed to see a long-lost friend that she was sure was ‘late’ (dead)! But her friend, Calviniah, is very much alive and the two women arrange to have lunch together. Over lunch Calviniah tells Precious that, sadly, she is estranged from her daughter who works as a diamond sorter.
Whilst relating Calviniah’s distress to Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, she also tells him that Calviniah mentioned a woman called Poppy, who had lost all her money. Mr J. L. B. Matekoni says he knows of the woman and that she met a man who was a car mechanic. Then he left to start his own church, which he called the Church of Christ, Mechanic. Did he part Poppy from her money, leaving her destitute?
As the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is disturbingly lacking in business, Mma Ramotswe decides to visit the Botswana Diamond Sorting Consortium to help her friend and reconcile her with her daughter. She also decides to investigate the mechanic turned reverend.
In the meantime, Mma Ramotswe’s assistant, Grace Makutsi, has decided to investigate a case that appears closed. A husband, who was suspected of having an affair by his wife, was innocently receiving mathematics lessons. Mma Makutsi, still unsure that he is innocent, makes her way to the woman teacher’s house. She is accompanied by Charlie, who is a mechanic, but aspires to become a detective. He is also unofficially engaged to the love of his life, Queenie Queenie, but is afraid her family will reject him for his lack of a dowry.
Will the team discover the truth of these issues and resolve them satisfactorily?
This is another charming instalment of the No1 Ladies Detective Agency series with the main characters carefully drawn by the narrative to delight the reader. This is no ‘guns blazing’ detective novel, but a foray into the everyday, using gentler, less invasive methods of finding the truth and bringing justice to those who deserve it. With wonderful descriptions of the Botswana countryside, its people and their customs it gives a different perspective of the lives of others.
Whether or not you have read any of the previous novels in the series, this is an enthralling and very enjoyable read.
To the Land of Long Lost Friends is available in paperback, hardback and e-book
About Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is the author of over eighty books on a wide array of subjects, including the award-winning The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. He is also the author of the Isabel Dalhousie novels and the world’s longest-running serial novel, 44 Scotland Street. His books have been translated into forty-six languages. Alexander McCall Smith is Professor Emeritus of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and holds honorary doctorates from thirteen universities.