Friday, April 11, 2008

Book Review The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith


Alexander McCall Smith, known far and wide for his multiple book series, has added to readers' collections with The Good Husband of Zebra Drive. The Ladies of the No. 1 Detective Agency now deal with far more investigations than they bargained for, with a few personal dilemmas thrown in.

Precious Ramotswe, the No. 1 of the agency, is hired by a cousin to look into some unexplained hospital deaths. As an administrator, he fully understands the cessation of life is a necessary evil. It's one of the realities of working in medicine. What troubles him are three patients dying on the same day and time. Although Precious would like to believe otherwise, one cause may just be someone with medical training. Could an 'angel of death' be lurking among the ward? Few want to discuss the possibility - making it even more likely. Still, there are other choices.

When she figures the mystery out, readers will be in for a surprise! It's not who one might reasonably expect.

This is not the only concern Precious is trying to handle. Grace Makutsi, whose secretarial skills are valuable to the agency, has to decide whether or not to leave. Since she has gotten engaged, there is a time coming when she is not going to need her own income.

Meanwhile, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, husband of Mma Ramotswe, is looking for a change from his regular duties as owner of the garage. As it sits rights next to the detective agency, he gets his wish after a woman comes to the agency wanting help in reining in a wayward husband. Since he is the only person around at the time, he easily figures out the steps necessary for a solution. Easy enough, right? Find who the other woman is, and convince her to step aside. Unless you happen to have no training whatsoever....

I have a quibble with this book. This is well written, drawing readers into the plot while showing just how beautiful Botswana can be. I could picture the dirt roads standing between lush, trees resplendent with individual leaves. My ears also caught the bells dangling from around the necks of cattle, signaling a nearby presence. However, was the use of 'that' needed so often? Most sentences work just fine without putting it in. For example, in the sentence "Most wives fondly hoped that their husbands dreamed about them, but they did not.", it can easily be left behind without losing context.

This is a novel for one of the lazy days with the reader in a hammock while sipping a cold glass of lemonade. Each chapter should be slowly absorbed in thoughtful silence. While I was not ecstatic over the book, McCall Smith is an author who is effective at getting his point across.

previously published here.