Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

               #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency #13

               I had a very hard time getting into this one.  I’ve heard such good things about this series, but I just didn’t get it. Perhaps it was because I had not read any of the earlier novels.  Perhaps because the culture portrayed in the book is so very foreign to me. I nearly gave it up after the end of chapter 3.  I still didn’t know what the mystery was going to be and I found it very confusing that they all call each other the same thing – Mma. 

               Mma would roughly translate to Mrs. in English.  And, the character used this form of address in nearly every sentence they spoke to each other.  I found the incessant repetition of this word very distracting.

                              “I had a very strange dream last night, Mma,” she said. “As I was saying.”

                        “Please tell me what it was, Mma,” said Mma Makutsi.

This made it difficult for me to read.  The sentences did not flow for me.

               Also, it wasn’t until chapter 11 or 12 that I finally discovered what the mystery was.  Perhaps I am too impatient, but that seemed like a very long time to wait before the point of the story came up.  And, meanwhile, there were a couple of side stories that seemed to take up a great deal of the volume of the tale, without adding much to it. The arrest and trial of one of the detective lady’s husband’s employees happens, and is told about in much detail.  But, I never figured out where those characters and that activity played into the mystery out at the orphan’s farm. Also, the other detective lady’s husband discovers he is being cheated by the contactor building his house. Once again, I’m not sure how that part of the tale added to the story. 

               The reason I kept reading was a vignette in which a mother is helping her child with his math homework.  He’s doing word problems which were also my nemesis. If a man can dig a ditch in one hour, how long will it take 3 men to dig a ditch?  I totally agreed with the kid that they’d get in each other’s way and it would undoubtedly take longer than an hour.  I figured any author with that tight a grasp on math was worth some more of my time, so I forged on.

               I won’t be reading any more of these books. I was disappointed. I had been looking forward to being delighted, but it just didn’t happen.

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