Title: To the Land of Long-Lost Friends
Author: Alexander McCall-Smith
Genre: Cosy Crime
Publisher: Little Brown/Hachette
Published: 10th September 2019
Synopsis: The next charming and heart-warming installment in the NO.1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY series, from bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith. This is Mma Ramotswe’s twentieth wonderful adventure.
The latest installment from the beloved THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY series…
TO THE LAND OF LONG-LOST FRIENDS
At a wedding, Mma Ramotswe bumps into a long-lost friend, Calviniah, who confesses that her only daughter Nametso has inexplicably turned away from her. Not only that, an old acquaintance has simultaneously lost all her money and found solace in a charismatic ex-mechanic turned reverend, who has seemingly cast a spell over several ladies in the region. With little work on at the agency, Precious and her colleague Mma Makutsi see no harm in investigating these curious situations. Meanwhile, part-time detective Charlie is anxious. He has few prospects and little money, so how can he convince his beloved Queenie-Queenie’s father to approve of their marriage?
As Precious and Mma Makutsi dig deeper into the stories of Nametso and the mysterious reverend, Precious once again ponders the human condition. She chooses to believe in goodness, that true equality can be found with one another. But in this world, can that assumption be justified? It will take all her ingenuity and moral good sense to get to the heart of the matter.
Mma Ramotswe is back and is attending a wedding when she sees someone whom she believes to be dead – yet it has been a case of mistaken identity, and this is where the mystery begins. She discovers that her friend’s daughter has become distant, and as she begins looking into Nametso’s strange behaviour, she also stumbles upon a case of a reverend who appears to be taking advantage of women. With Mma Makutsi and Charlie, she begins to look into each case, and helps out at the Orphan Farm as well, while Charlie grapples with how to impress Queenie-Queenie’s father.
Each crime or case is a personal one – and each shows the flaws and strengths of each character, and reveals something of the human nature, and how some people will take advantage of those who are vulnerable or easily manipulated. Throughout the novel, the world of Botswana comes through. All sides are shown through the eyes of Mma Ramotswe and how she sees the world, and wishes the world to be, which is in direct contrast to Mma Makutsi’s pragmatism and superior sense of self – she did receive 97 per cent at the secretarial college after all, which she never lets anyone forget (poor Charlie and Precious must be tired of hearing about it by now). And sitting in between, is Charlie, who wishes to marry the woman he loves and prove himself to be a good detective, but finds that he has doubts about marriage, but loads of confidence when it comes to being a detective – and I think he is quite good at it.
Working separately and together, Precious, Mma Makutsi and Charlie follow people and talk to whomever they can about the crimes, slowly revealing what is going on and resolving the questions set to them by those who have come to ask them for help.
This is one of those series that can be read in order, or one can jump around, yet I think reading them in order will give you a better understanding and make it more enjoyable in the long run. Drawing on the clash of cultures and how people adapt, this book is a great addition to the series and characters created twenty books ago.