The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency)
As Mma Ramotswe and her friend sat together having red bush tea, “She closed her eyes. You can do that in the company of an old friend—you can close your eyes and think of the land that gave you life and health, and of all the reasons why you are glad that you are there, with the people you know, with the people you love.”
That is how one feels when reading the latest of McCall Smith’s heartwarming No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories. Every time you sit down with one of these books, it is like spending time with an old friend, one whom you deeply enjoy, appreciate, and yes, love. The opening pages are like walking in the front door of your family’s welcoming arms: all the familiar faces are there to greet you. There’s Mma Ramotswe, the proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency; her husband, J. L. B. Matekoni; Mrs. Ramotswe’s assistant, Mma Makutsi, and her fiancé, Phuti Radiphuti.
The Double Comfort Safari Club focuses on Mma Makutsi, her fiancé’s unfortunate accident, the Okavango Delta, and the karma created by good deeds. There are additional mysteries to solve and cases to follow, but the main course of this literary meal is the people and landscape of Botswana. Mma Ramotswe believes that most people are good and kind, some are conflicted, and a small sliver of humanity is mean or cruel. In her experience and worldview, the good always outweighs the bad and takes precedence over rudeness and negativity. She espouses the notion that kindness and consideration toward others are necessary tools for daily living.
The author’s unique ability to portray the feminine in ways that male and female readers can identify with has never been more apparent than in this latest gem. At one point, he writes that, “Mma Ramotswe simply understands.” That is how one feels about Mr. McCall Smith and his portrayal of Botswana, its people, and humanity as a whole. He is able to not only observe the actions of others, but also write about what they are thinking and how their minds work. The characters in his novels seem like people you can reach out to and touch. In some respects, The Double Comfort Safari Club is like watching a good movie—with the added advantage of being able to follow the inner workings of each actor on the screen.
This is the 11th book in the series, and not one of McCall Smith’s books are redundant or boring. There will hopefully be many more delicious cups of red bush tea—for we can always use a good dose of kindness.
<div normal"="">Reviewer Gabriel Constans’ latest books include the novel, Buddha’s Wife, and a short story collection, Saint Catherine’s Baby. He has worked in East Africa at the ROP Center for Street Children in Rwanda, and has edited a collection of children’s stories, Rwandan Folk Tales.