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The Kalahari Typing School for Men    by Alexander McCall Smith Amazon.com order for
Kalahari Typing School for Men
by Alexander McCall Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Kalahari Typing School for Men continues a series set in Botswana, that began with The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. The agency continues to function, now out of an office on the premises of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, where typing ace Mma. Makutsi operates competently as both assistant garage manager and assistant private detective.

Precious Ramotswe, content in her own life with her recovered (from a debilitating depression) fiancÚ J.L.B. Matekoni and two fostered children (Motholeli and Puso), now desires to improve her assistant's situation. But the efficient Makutsi soon works out her own solution, leading to yet another entrepeneurial venture all of her own, that is the The Kalahari Typing School for Men.

In the meantime, Precious gains as client an affluent engineer who seeks to undo wrongs committed by his younger self, and needs Ramotswe to track down his previous victims. The children have problems settling into school and their new life. And there is competition for the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency from the Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency run by the arrogant Cephas Buthelezi, 'Ex-CID. Ex-New York. Ex-cellent!'

Though this is initially worrisome, Ramotswe soon inherits Buthelezi's dissatisfied client. Unfortunately her quick solution to that lady's problem lands her with a new dilemma. Precious Ramotswe makes a very personable protagonist, with whom one enjoys spending time. Though the mystery is mild, Smith takes us back to a gentler, slower way of life, where relationships matter. Don't miss this series.

2nd review by Mary Ann Smyth:

Mma Ramotswe's business in Botswana is building; she has two adopted children, a good life, and a fine fiancÚ. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has not yet set a date for their wedding and that troubles her. But she is soft-spoken and amenable and, for the moment, is willing to wait for him to broach the subject.

Her assistant, Mma Makutsi, feels life is passing her by. She has a job and a sick brother to care for and sends money home to her family in her small village. To fill her coffers, she starts a typing school for men that is very well received. An added bonus is a student who takes an interest in her. Is he the right man for her?

Mma Ramotswe acquires a client who wants Precious to check up on her husband. Which she does with her usual alacrity and competence. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has two young assistants at his car repair business who have a brush with the strength of prayer. Botswana is as much a character as the people who appear in Smith's books. This country comes alive with the power of his words.

In all three of Smith's series, he writes with a simple charm that is captivating. With a wry humor, he tells a tale with clarity and insight.

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