Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Alexander McCall Smith”

xoxoxoe’s #CBR4 Review #19: The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious Ramotswe is back, in the new paperback edition in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by author Alexander McCall Smith, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party.

Mma Ramotswe has a new and difficult client who she must try to help, but the real focus of the book, as with others in the series, is the gentle reminder to enjoy the beauty in life; and that many of life’s problems, big and small, can eventually be solved with a little gentle tact and caring.

A nervous and not very likable farmer, Mr. Botsalo Moeti, has come to The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency for help in determining just who is behind some attacks on his cattle. As Mma Ramotswe tries to sort out the problem, and just how much she owes a client who may, in his own way, be in the wrong, there are also other complications closer to home.

She has been very much missing her beloved little white van and is unnerved by its possible, ghostly, reappearance.

One of the apprentices at Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s garage, Charlie, also has a very big (and very little) problem that involves his imprudent girlfriend Prudence.

Plans for the wedding of assistant detective Mma Makutsi and her fiance Phuti Radiphuti are in full swing, but Mma Makutsi has some doubts that Phuti is taking care of his side of the planning. She is also having a difficult “conversation” with brand new pair of beautiful white wedding shoes. An added distraction — her ultimate nemesis and former classmate from the Botswana Secretarial College, Violet Sephotho, is running for a seat in Botswana’s parliament, a fact that appalls Mma Makutsi.

The only disappointment in this entry to the series might be that Mma Ramotswe’s and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s two adopted children, Motholeli and Puso, are so relegated to the background of the story that they have almost completely disappeared. It would be nice if Mr. McCall Smith would follow up on his earlier hints that the wheelchair-bound Motholeli, who showed an interest and talent for mechanics, might want to join her father at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and take on a more prominent role.

Mma Ramotswe uses her charm and smarts to resolve most of the novel’s issues in her usual gentle and pleasant way, but The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party also has some undercurrents of unrest. As much as Botswana is praised as a wonderful place that still honors the “old values,” there are glimpses into the difficult life that people outside of a city like Gaborone face, with the characters of a mother and child who live on a farm and are in thrall to the new owner. McCall Smith wants to look at the bright side of life in most of his writing, but he also wants to remind his readers that there is still much poverty and suffering in Africa.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series continues to delight, and Precious Ramotswe and all of her friends and extended family are still people we want to spend some time with, attending The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, under the broad blue skies of Botswana, sipping red bush tea.

You can read more of my pop culture reviews on my blog, xoxoxo e

Article first published as Book Review: The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith on Blogcritics.

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xoxoxoe’s #CBR4 Review #11: The Feng Shui Detective Goes West, by Nury Vittachi

New York based Felony and Mayhem Press has recently released The Feng Shui Detective Goes West by Nury Vittachi. The publishers are dubbing it “The Second Master Wong Mystery,” but readers will be happy to learn that the book, originally published in 2008, is actually the fifth entry featuring the popular sleuth.

Author Nury Vittachi

A comic novel, set in a mystery milieu, The Feng Shui Detective Goes West follows feng shui master CF Wong and his much younger female assistant, Australian Joyce McQuinnie, as they try to unravel a modern day locked door mystery set on a luxury airplane, dubbed Skyparc. When Wong isn’t in search of a gigantic lunch, or trying to earn some much-needed money, he is able to turn his considerable knowledge of feng shui to solving a murder that may, indirectly, involve the British Royal family, as one of their distant relatives is on board. Wong even finds himself hired to feng shui Buckingham Palace — but he must first travel on Skyparc and unravel its mysteries to get there.

British PR man Robbie Manks tries to explain the job with the Royals to Wong:

“If people were to find out that money was being spent on a feng shui master, they would likely raise an enormous fuss — the headlines would say, ‘Despicable Royals use purse for financing nutters’ or something. They’d say that even when the Queen uses her own money for something.”
“A nutter — it’s British slang — it just means ‘crazy person,’ really. The press would assume anyone who believed in feng shui would be mentally deranged, that’s all. No insult intended or anything.”
“No problem. Many of my clients are Asian businessmen. They also like to keep everything secret.”
“Well, this is exactly the same as that.”
“Mostly because they are crooks.”
“Oh. Well, perhaps not exactly like that, in this case.”

Joyce also brings her considerable talents to the table, which includes an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure ’70s rock and pop music, and a more working knowledge of modern day slang and behavior. She also happens to have gone to school with the main suspect in the case, which proves helpful.

The crime aspects were interesting and complicated enough to satisfy fans of the genre, but like the gentle mysteries posed and solved by Mma Romatswe in Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, what is most interesting and entertaining in The Feng Shui Detective Goes West are the characters, and author Vittachi’s wry East vs. West humor. Vittachi, a journalist who also writes an entertaining blog, has a lot of fun with his titular character. There are laugh-out-loud moments as Wong and McQuinnie react to others around them. There are also interspersed “extracts” from Wong’s own Gleanings of Oriental Wisdom that add to the flavor and atmosphere of the story.

The Feng Shui Detective Goes West is very entertaining, and readers will do well to consider and observe like the feng shui detective, as well as seek out his other humorous adventures.


You can read more of my pop culture reviews on my blog, xoxoxo e

Article first published as Book Review: The Feng Shui Detective Goes West by Nury Vittachi on Blogcritics.

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