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Posts Tagged ‘Alexander McCall Smith’

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To the loyal followers of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, the latest addition, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, will be cause for concern. Most all of us were looking forward to Grace Makutsi’ pregnancy as her swansong at the detective agency. With Grace at home nursing young Itumelang Clovis Radiphuti, Precious Ramotswe would be free to pursue solving cases without having to constantly work around the obstreperous Grace; but no, what happened instead is that Precious felt lonely and sought out Grace at home. It would have been better if she had hired the often maligned Violet Sephotho as her temporary secretary, or if she had inquired of the Botswana Secretarial College for a less difficult, recent graduate, regardless of their score.

What do we have now? For starters, we have Grace and baby Clovis in the office. We have milktoast Phuti Radiphuti coming in for minor praise. We have Precious acknowledging the existence of Grace’s many talking shoes.

The final blow comes on the closing page of the book; but I am too alarmed to report it. Mark my prediction, there will be rough days ahead for the detective agency. Charles Marlin

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To think Freddie de la Hay, the most famous Pimlico Terrier, would experience the horror of falling down a rabbit hole and fighting for his life, and when he comes out, being kidnapped.  I shall tell you no more other than to assure you Freddie shows no signs of post stress disorder.

His littermate, the very butch bitch Maggy de la That, hearing of his ordeal arranged to visit for a fortnight, which both enjoyed immensely.  As a memento of her visit, she gave Freddie this photo of her when she was in her second obedience school.  He gave her his photo used for Pimlico Terrier Alert, May 1, 2012, on this blog.

To learn more you will have to read the third book in the Corduroy Mansions Series, A Conspiracy Of Friends.   The people around Freddie are, as Mrs. Slocombe would say, “Weak as water, weak as water,” for they never seem to know when, how, or with whom to fall in love.  The good news is that reptilian Oedipus Snark has a road-to-Damascus experience, but can anything permanently imprint on Oedipus?  Do you suppose Alexander McCall Smith knows?

I need hardly tell you, kind reader, ignore all images of Freddie provided by the publisher, philistines one and all.  Charles Marlin

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There is no use trying to act like this is news to anyone.  You have already no doubt heard that Clovis Andersen, the American author of The Principles of Private Detection, the veritable bible of Precious Ramotswe, visited Botswana and stayed at the President Hotel in Gaborone.  He not only visited the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but also collaborated with Mma Ramotswe on a very important case.  All the details are in Alexander McCall Smith’s thirteenth book in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Series, very smartly titled The Limpopo Academy Of Private Detection.

I wish I could report that Grace Makutsi and her talking shoes, now that she is married to milk toast Phuti Radiphuti, have withdrawn from detective work leaving Mma Ramotswe in peace; but I can not.  I don’t want to be mean about this; but mark my words, I see a sanitarium visit in the future of the new Mma Radiphuti.

Charlie, worthless failed apprentice of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni at the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, proves himself exceedingly ingenious and useful.  I will tell no more so the details are fresh when you read them.  I, for one, commend him.  Charles Marlin

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There is a vicious campaign at Pantheon Books, Random House, Polygon, and Birlinn Ltd to destroy the growing appeal of Pimlico Terriers.  Breeders, owners, and other friends of the breed must put pressure on these corporate entities to conduct their business with integrity.

We know from Alexander McCall Smith himself the Pimlico Terrier is, “an unusual breed obtained through the judicious crossing of an Airedale with a Border Collie, and perhaps just a touch of something else about which the breeders themselves were now hazy.”  Who among us wants to dispute the authority of AMcCS?  None, so why do the covers of both books in the Corduroy Mansions Series have Smooth Fox Terriers representing the venerable Freddie de la Hay, the most famous of Pimlico Terriers.

The first book in the series is Corduroy Mansions and the second book is The Dog Who Came In From The Cold; and in both, Freddie de la Hay rescues those in peril and solves the romantic conundrums of those humans who come to him for help.  He is, at all times, a gentleman, scholar, and a philosopher.  No other breed of dogs, even those from Germany, has ever obtained the level of empathetic interaction with humans as has the Pimlico Terrier.

In the United States, the Pimlico Terrier Club, Inc. maintains a stud book and registry and hopes to introduce the breed at the Westminster Dog Show in New York City in 2016.  The loss of valuable promotion from the Corduroy Mansions Series book covers is a set back for them, so the 2016 date may be pushed forward to 2020.

Pressure on these publishing entities should begin with a calm, friendly call or perhaps a postcard.  As a retired university professor, AMcCS may be dependent upon his royalty checks; and we certainly don’t want to do any harm to him.  If friendly calls and postcards don’t effect a change in book covers, then we should escalate to Sharpie Permanent Markers if you still have a bookstore in your neighborhood.

Further, I wish to deny any negative thoughts or feelings toward Smooth Fox Terriers as a breed or to the two models used for AMcCS’s books.  I had more than one Smooth as a child and continue to admire the breed without reservation.  Charles Marlin

Post Script  For a picture of Freddie’s sister Maggy de la That please go to my post Pimlico Terrier Littermates, August 15, 2012.

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More news of Precious Ramotswe from Alexander McCall Smith in the twelfth book in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series.  This time it is The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party; yes, Grace Makutsi finally marries Phuti Radiphuti.  Far be it from me to pass on stories or gossip about Grace, so I will not mention any details about her obsession with shoes, her abuse of Precious’ kind and gentle personality, or her unhealthy dislike of Violet Sephotho.

Precious is called to a difficult case involving cruelty to cattle which she is unable to solve but is able to resolve in a traditional Botswana way.  While on the case, Precious brings new purpose to the life of Charlie, the uncertified mechanical assistant at the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, although it is far too soon to say Charlie is a changed person.

The really great news is that something precious to Precious is returned to her in far better shape than when she lost it.  I will not be like Grace and immediately speculate as to when it will again list to the driver’s side.

The wedding of you know who to you know whom is over but I fear it will not bring relief to the detective agency.  I have a feeling that who is not going to quit her job.  I may write a letter to the author.  Charles Marlin

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Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, has forced Mma Precious Ramotswe, my friend and his wife, to give up her beloved old van for a larger, white van.  I know she still mourns the loss of her old van but she knows that things are always changing at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and she must look forward with good cheer.  The daughter of Obed Ramotswe has the bedrock virtues and courage of old Botswana, so she resolutely works to help friends and strangers alike.

Alexander McCall Smith in his latest report on Mma Ramotswe The Double Comfort Safari Club finds  things at home peaceful but abuzz at the agency.  Mma Makutsi turns to her boss for help with a major personal crisis.  Marital disaffection brings friends to the agency for help.  A stranger has a very big problem with the tramp Violet Sephotho which Precious solves much to the delight of her secretary.  An unusual inquiry from America sends Precious and her secretary on a trip north to safari country where Precious comes face to face with a lion in the night.

You’ll want to get all the details by reading the new report.  It is as always a delight.  I want to say right now so you can attest to my saying it first.  Before Mma Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti are married and settled in, Violet Sephotho will come to the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency for help which will turn into another crisis for Mma Makutsi.  As you know, the animosity between those two is long standing.  And still Precious will not fire her.  Mark my words.

I hope you like the snapshot of the cattle Precious inherited from her father Obed before she was obliged to sell them.  The cattle were his profession and honor, and for her they represent the good of old Botswana.  Charles Marlin

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I would be delighted to meet Precious Ramotswe for a cup of red bush tea at The President Hotel but hopefully not with her assistant Grace Makutsi in tow, no, no, no.  If I am lucky Mma Ramotswe will have thought ahead and brought two slices of Mma Potokswane’s fruit cake as a welcoming gift to Botswana.  And I must remember to insist that we share in the gift because I know that sharing and generosity are old Botswana values dear to the heart of the daughter of Obed Ramotswe.  Our topic I hope will not be on the authority of Clovis Anderson or the sickness hurting Botswana but rather the life and wisdom of her father who was known to all as a good and wise man.

Before she became as well known in America as in Gaborone I enjoyed introducing The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series to friends and strangers.  Because of the HBO Original Series that bit of pleasure has been stripped from me but I must not fret about what is lost through no fault of my own.  Yes, I believe a second cup of red bush tea should placate my wounded pride.

I buy my red bush tea at Sage Meadow in Clarion where as you would expect the tea bags are oxygen bleached, not chlorine treated.  Red bush tea is made from Rooibos leaf that grows in the high mountain ranges of the South African Cape region.  It is naturally caffeine-free and with less than half the tannins of regular tea.  Can you imagine Mma Makutsi pumped with caffeine?

It is said to have a light sweetness to it so Precious drinks it with out honey but I like to indulge myself with a bit of honey.  I shall try to remember, however, if I ever sit down to tea with her to drink it straight.  Old courtesies and manners are to be remembered in Botswana.  Charles Marlin

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