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Book Name: The Miracle at Speedy Motors

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

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Overall Rating: (4.49/5) View all reviews (total 57 reviews)

Starred Review. Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's foremost solver of problems, is used to handling mostly straightforward domestic cases, which makes a series of anonymous letters threatening her and her prickly assistant, Grace Makutsi, all the more disturbing in Smith's triumphant ninth No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novel (afterThe Good Husband of Zebra Drive). The search for whoever penned the letters coincides with a new commission: Manka Sebina, whose birth parents gave her up as a child, hires the agency to track down any living relatives. Both problems afford Mma Ramotswe ample opportunity to display her winning blend of insight into others' motivations and an endearingly naïve belief in the best in human nature. Significant, if incremental, developments in the lives of the community Smith has lovingly created over the course of the series will intrigue old fans. Immediately accessible to newcomers, this entry will prompt them to seek out the earlier books.(Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.


A cup of tea, a slice of cake, and thou

by Amanda Richards

The ninth book in the series brings both woes and wisdom for the ladies of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. This time there are only two clients with cases to solve, but the domestic affairs of Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi take centre stage.Mma Makutsi and her splendidly named fiancé Phuti Radiphuti are closer than ever to setting a date for the wedding, but when she picks out a snazzy new bed with red hearts on the headboard, she gets more heartache than she bargained for.Mma Ramotswe is concerned over the growing outspokenness and self-confidence of Mma Makutsi, who after all, is soon to be married to the owner of a thriving furniture store, but she can't stop to dwell on the situation, because her own husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has been talked into spending a fortune on a miracle cure for their daughter.As far as the cases go, Mma Ramotswe has to find the family of a client who doesn't know her own real name, her birthday, or even if she has any family at all. Mma Makutsi's case is to find out whether a tenant is pulling a fast one on his landlord. At the same time, both ladies are trying to solve the mystery of the menacing letters.After lots of awkward moments due to wrong conclusions, mistaken beliefs, incorrect information and erroneous assumptions, the ladies realize that the best road to happiness is to be true to yourself, honest to others, and to recognize the everyday miracles that we often take for granted.For those now starting the series, the titles so far are:The No.1 Ladies' Detective AgencyTears of the GiraffeMorality for Beautiful GirlsThe Kalahari Typing School for MenThe Full Cupboard of LifeIn the Company of Cheerful LadiesBlue Shoes and HappinessThe Good Husband of Zebra DriveThe Miracle at Speedy MotorsEasy to read, and overflowing with the gracious charm of its traditionally built central character, this series is ideal for people on the go who need a couple of hours to get away from it all. Chatty, relaxing and familiar, make sure you save some time to kick back with a cup of tea and the ladies of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.Amanda Richards, May 3, 2008

Wonderful characters, well told

by Armchair Interviews

An anonymous letter threatens the lives of detective Precious Ramotswe and her assistant Grace Makutsi; a woman without a family searches for her past; and a girl in a wheelchair is given dangerous new hope. The ninth installment of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series is packed with all the adventure one might expect from a detective novel. And yet there is more-oh, so much more.Alexander McCall Smith is known for his superb character development, and The Miracle at Speedy Motors is another delightful encounter with the men and women who make their home under the large Botswana sky. You need not have read the other books in the series to enjoy this latest book. However, if you have read those books, you will find yourself even deeper into the hearts of the characters that you have grown to love.McCall Smith's writing here is both lyrical and meaningful. It's not only the plot that drives this novel, it's also a compulsion to discover more about the human heart. Page after page, McCall Smith uses his beloved characters to open windows into the human soul. The vision of humanity that he creates is not only insightful, but it is fundamentally hopeful.These characters are attractive because their weaknesses are so familiar and their pain so tangible. They can't help but hope for healing miracles to sweep through their lives. If the book were sentimental, they might receive the miracles for which they hope. Instead, they do experience the miraculous, but in ways quite unexpected.While contemplating a difficult turn of events, Ramotswe thinks, "What does it matter if businesses are left unattended, if people are not always as we want them to be; we need the time just to be human, to enjoy something like this: a boy chasing ants, a dry land drinking at last, birds in the sky, a rainbow." Yes, we all need time just to be human and to enjoy something-something very much like this book.Armchair Interviews says: The joy that you experience in reading this novel might be its own little miracle!

Light and enjoyable, but not the best of the novels

by A. Woodley "Patroness, Janeites, the Austen list"

Precoius Ramotswe is back, and Alexander McCall Smith has written another good installment in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency.While it isn't the best in the series that I have read, it still has a number of the features which I think makes this series so compelling. The complex relationships, the gentle humour, the rather small issues that the Number One detective Agency has to solve, but they are all set against larger themes such as traditional life in Botswana and other broader issues of life in an Africa Country.There are a number of things for Mma Ramotswe to solve. Her paid case in this installment is to find a woman's family. She does not know who they are or even if they are, she is just sure she was adopted and wants to find out if she has any family. However - first and foremost are the nasty letters which the agency is receiving, threatening and personal. Then there is her adopted daughter who is in a wheelchair. Mr J L B Matekoni has met a doctor who says he can heal her and is determined to try no matter what the cost.Mma Makutsi's wedding date has not been set, and she is privately worried. It is affecting her work and when she takes a morning off, distracted, Mma Ramotswe is forced to wonder just what will happen when Mma Makutsi gets married...will she leave the agency? will she demand to be made more than associate detective?Luckily, or unluckily Mma Makutsi has a disaster with a piece of furniture and her reliance on Mma Ramotswe is confirmed!All these 'disasters' are affecting life at the Number one ladies detective agency, especially when it seems that one of their own may be perpetrating the nasty letters. Luckily it is the Apprentice Charlie who saves the day discovering the culprit which results in a hilarious chase through the local supermarket.This series really is wonderful. The small things in life, such as rain, cattle, new shoes, furniture, a filing cabinet which is locked - they fill the integral plot keys to a larger life.While this novel was warm and friendly, I just enjoyed others more. However I would still highly recommend this book. My favourite so far, I think, was the Kalahari Typing School for Men - but they are really all wonderful reading!


by Beverley Strong

This is the next little episode in the series of books, set in Botswana, and starring Mma Precious Ramotswe. It's difficult to explain to people who haven't met Mma Ramotswe just how these simple tales affect the reader and draw one into such a feeling of closeness and affection that one has for this big hearted, kind and lovable lady who describes herself as being of "traditional build" for an African lady. Mma's assistant Private Detective at the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, Grace Kakutsi, is engeged to marry the owner of a prosperous store and is thrilled when he buys a bed for them to use after their marriage. It's a huge bed with a headboard made of red velvet in the shape of a heart. Grace is unable to even get it into her tiny house and so leaves it outside until other arrangements can be made. Unfortunately, the drought breaks and the bed is totally ruined by the torrential rain so when Grace manages to find a replacement, she is tortured by doubts as to whether or not she should confess her carelessness to her fiance. One of the cases the Agency is handling at the moment is one where a young woman is trying to find any living relative. These stories seem too simple to be of any interest but are filled with such warmth and love that I cannot wait for the next to be written!

Changes and Errors

by Bill Jordin

The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008) is the ninth mystery novel in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, followingThe Good Husband of Zebra Drive. The initial volume in this sequence isThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.In the previous volume, Precious got up a little early to brew the morning tea and to think about her life and business. J.L.B. and the children usually got up later, so she has some time to meditate on her affairs. Today, the air was cold and her breathe made mist as she strolled in the garden with her bush tea. Yet the winter weather was gradually turning warmer.After the children ate breakfast and departed for school, Precious and J.L.B. usually sat in the kitchen in silence before leaving for work. They drove separately along different routes. J.L.B. took the shortest route and Precious went the long way.This morning, however, J.L.B. mentioned that a potential client had visited the Detective Agency the previous day. Precious was elsewhere and Grace had left early to go shopping. J.L.B. had got the pertinent data from the client and wrote it down.Precious listened to J.L.B. and read his note. Faith believed her husband was having an affair with another woman. Precious seemed to remember something about the woman. As they both drive off, Precious recalled Faith's reputation.In this novel, Precious Ramotswe is the founder and Head Detective at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. She is now married to J.L.B. Maketoni. She and J.L.B are fostering two children -- Pusa and Motholeli -- from the orphan farm.Grace Makutsi is an Associate Detective at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. She is also the stenographer and typist.J.L.B Maketoni is the husband of Precious. He is also an automobile mechanic and owns the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.Polopetsi is an assistant to Grace and J.L.B. He is learning to be a mechanic, but also occasionally accompanies the ladies on cases.Charlie is the senior apprentice at Speedy Motors. He is more interested in girls and flashy clothes to attract girls.Phuti Radiphuti is from a rich family. He has asked Grace to marry him.Manka Sebina is an orphan. She has recently learned that the couple who raised her were not her parents.Potokwane is matron of the orphans farm and a friend of J.L.B. and Precious. She usually offers J.L.B. a fruit cake if he will come by the home to fix something.In this story, Grace complains about the current address of the agency. It states that the mail should be delivered c/o Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. She thinks it is demeaning to the independence of the agency. Precious does not agree.Charlie is bragging about his new room and imitating the amazed girls. J.L.B says most girls don't talk that way and he'd better not mock girls in front of Grace. Charlie says he is not frightened by any woman.When she arrives with the mail, Precious mentions the client coming in a half hour. Grace states her wish that the postal service deliver to their place. She says it is a waste of time to walk to the post office to get their mail. Precious says it is a waste of time to prepare tea and then drink it.Then Precious notices the letter on top. It is addressed To the lady detective. Precious opens it and finds a hate message. She shows it to Grace.Mma Makutsi notices the letter has not signature. She doesn't know where to file it. So Precious suggests that they start a new file for such letters.Precious assumes the letter is from a man. No woman would write the letter is the way that it is written. She starts wondering who hates her and Grace enough to write the letter.The new client drives into the parking lot. Grace notices her first and says she is early. Sebina comes in and introduces herself. She seems to be a very observant woman.Sebina and Precious discuss her case while they drink tea. After Sebina states her total ignorance of her ancestors and siblings, Precious gets the particulars on her foster parents. Grace assures her that they will find her family.After quitting time, Precious drives home. She notices someone following her. She speeds up and takes back roads, but the following car stays on her tail.Finally, she stops at a playing field next to the Anglican Cathedral. The following car stops behind her. Then Potokwane steps out of that car.Mma Potokwane says that she had been following Precious because she had something for her.She gives Precious a furit cake to take to her husband. The orphan farm has a washing machine that needs repair.Precious has a talk with Puso about his parents while they are driving to a village. Puso tries to throws himself out of the moving car. Precious grabs his arm and keeps him in the car as she drives off the road.With the car parked, Precious pulls Puso to her and hugs him. She asks him not to be angry with Mummy. That was the first time she had called herself his Mummy. When Precious drove off, both of them were changed for the better.This tale brings a new bed to Grace. Phuti buys it, even though it costs more than they expected. The next day, the bed and headboard are delivered to Grace's house.Precious and Polopetsi go to Otse in the van. After about twenty minutes, they come into the outskirts of the village. They stop by a lady sitting in a chair by the road. Another chair is hanging from the tree overhead.The lady says she is just resting her hands. Previous asks her about Manka and her foster parents. The lady says that she had witnessed Manka's birth from Mma Sebina.Precious receives more letters from the anonymous sender. The next installment in this sequence isTea Time for the Traditionally Built.Highly recommended for McCall Smith fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of African cultures, private detectives, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!-Bill Jordin

Less bite but every bit as satisfying

by Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow"

"The Miracle at Speedy Motors" is a softer, gentler Precious Ramotswe story, but has an interesting enough episodic plot. As always with these "No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" books, the beauty parts are the interactions between the sweet and less sweet characters and the never failing wisdom and humanity provided by the book's heroine, Precious Ramotswe. She is so much the embodiment of logic and kindness that you find yourself repeatedly wondering why can't we all behave more like this?In "Miracle," Ms. Ramotswe takes on the dilemma of a client who recently been orphaned but who believes that her recently departed mother was not the woman who gave birth to her. The pursuit of the truth in this case and when to tell the truth in two other secondary stories, becomes the essence of the novel. As always, author Alexander Mccall-Smith, raises some basic questions about what is expected of us all as member of society. The answers are always common-sensical and reassuring."The Miracle at Speedy Motors"--or any of the books in this series--is a great book to read when you're feeling a little blue, unsure or mentally bruised. Like flannel sheets on a cold night, it will restore your mood and while it provides a warm feeling.

This series is great! Be sure to read them in order though.

by Bold Consumer

A friend sent me most of these. I didn't intend to read them because I have too much to do and way too much to read already. However, I had to at least look at them so I could thank her. Then I couldn't put them down. I averaged one book per day. When I ran out of the ones she sent, I searched on Amazon and found out that several more were out there to read, and I bought those. This is not something I would have chosen to read, but I loved them! It has been years since I had books that I just couldn't put down. That's a good feeling.

Charming and unique

by Bookreporter

We welcome Precious Ramotswe with open arms as she continues to solve the personal and often deceptively simple problems of her fellow Botswanians. Miracles, it seems, can happen in unexpected and often unrecognized ways, as she and her Associate Detective Mma Makutsi discover.Someone is leaving threatening notes addressed to Mma Ramotswe at the Speedy Motors garage, owned by her husband and the location where the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is found. Disclosing the suspected poison penman could jeopardize the friendship and loyalty of someone close to them, so she must use her most diplomatic means of uncovering the source of the threats, then resolving the situation in her own inimitable way.A larger mystery requires finding the lost family of a woman who always suspected that the parents who raised her were not her parents at all, but no evidence exists to prove otherwise. Her mother and father are now dead --- or "late," as they are described in the charming musical language of Botswana. The search leads down some fascinating and troubling byways of Botswana's past, as Mma Ramotswe travels to surrounding villages to meet with people who might shed light on a ticklish situation.A third possible miracle is the discovery by Mma Ramotswe's husband of a doctor who may be able to cure the condition that has crippled their foster daughter, consigned for life to a wheelchair.Meanwhile, now that the date is set for Mma Makutsi and her prosperous fiancé Phuti, they are looking for a marital bed --- an activity that proves not only embarrassing for them but could threaten their future.We are treated to the introspections that reflect the fading culture of this ancient society, as Mma Ramotswe finds doodles by her assistant linking her name to her fiancé's in the way of all young women in love. "Women, thought Mma Ramotswe, are sometimes like plump chickens in the yard, while outside, circling the fence, were the hyenas, the men. It was not a happy way of envisaging the relation between the sexes, but time and time again she had seen this particular drama played out in exactly that way. And hyenas, one had to admit, were surely destined to break the hearts of chickens; they could do nothing else."On the subject of being "traditionally built" --- the euphemism that best describes our heroine as a comfortably padded woman --- she ..."considered it one of the very worst features of modern society that people should be ashamed to be of traditional build, cultivating instead a look that was bony and positively uncomfortable. Everybody knows, she thought, that we have a skeleton underneath our skin; there's no reason to show it."That THE MIRACLE AT SPEEDY MOTORS debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list is neither a mystery nor a miracle. Alexander McCall Smith has created a most charming and unique detective, collecting a growing base of admirers and ardent fans with each new adventure. Mma Ramotswe has become a beloved emissary of the rich culture and folk wisdom of Botswana, so lovingly portrayed by McCall Smith, who taught law and ethics in his adopted country.This gentle narrative is without breathtaking chase scenes (unless you discount the shopping cart pursuit through a local grocery store) or cliffhangers (oh wait, there is that meditation at the precipice overlooking Mma Ramotswe's home village) that typify most detective novels. And yet it would be inaccurate to describe any of the nine delightful stories in this series as "cozies." There's no one quite like our traditionally built Mma Ramotswe, and to pigeonhole her even into a mystery or detective genre would cramp her style.--- Reviewed by Roz Shea

Subtle Masterpiece

by Brad Teare

The latest installment of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency starts out like previous books, but wends and weaves to a beautiful, understated climax. One of the best of the series.

Swift and Sweet

by Brett Benner

Another charming addition to The Detective Agency series. While I enjoyed the book a great deal, this one felt a bit more slight than some of the previous books, and frankly felt like an expanded newspaper serial.Still, anyone who is a fan of the books will find themselves delighted just to be in the company of Precious and co. for an afternoon.

As brilliant as ever - read this book

by C. Catherwood "writer"

This is as brilliant a book as ever in the series, and shows a writer very much still at the height of his creative powers. While some might think one overarching mystery might be important, I think that that misses the point of a novel like this - the wonderful pace. As a leading London lawyer told me, the great things about these novels is that they are SLOW: the pace is leisurely and they induce a wonderful sense of calm in the reader. This is why they are so popular and it is what makes them so readable - all that, of course, as well as the superb sense of place you get in these novels, their magnificent evocation of the African atmosphere from someone who was born and raised in the area and the totally brilliant sense of characterisation that makes them so real.It is a shame that people tend only to read one of the many McCall Smith series. You can tell what a wonderful evocation of character he has by, for example, comparing his characterisation in both these novels and in his 44 Scotland Street series, where all the characters are equally well drawn. (One can do the same with others: for example the Isabel Dalhousie series and those of the Portuguese Irregular Verbs). The over-ambitious mother Isabel in 44 Scotland Street and Mma Makutsi in this novel: both are magnificent portrayals of highly memorable characters and show that McCall Smith is one of the true great writers of our time.So buy this book, give it to all your friends and then buy at least one of the other series as well: you don't have to be in Botswana to enjoy this series, for example, and you don't have to be in Edinburgh to enjoy some of his others.Christopher Catherwood (author of CHURCHILL'S FOLLY: HOW WINSTON CHURCHILL CREATED MODERN IRAQ and joint author of THE MERCHANTS OF FEAR).

"We are all care of one another"

by C. Ebeling "ctlpareader"

Don't know about you, but I've been slapped silly by the speed of change in American life. Thus it is refreshing to open up a volume in the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and watch how modern Botswana and its people, as portrayed in these charming but not simplistic novels, are holding their own as the future hurls itself at them. These are not what we have come to think of as conventional mysteries with body counts, procedurals and intricately plotted solutions. The private detective Mma Ramotswe and her assistant, Mma Matakusi, handle the daily transactions of their own lives and their clients that raise questions small and big, all of which have moral consequences. In THE MIRACLE AT SPEEDY MOTORS, it may be as simple as whether to cover up the damage to an expensive gift of furniture, or as complicated as whether to believe in (and pay for) a miracle cure for a young girl confined to a wheelchair.In this book, Mma Ramotswe continues to apply the folk wisdom of the traditional way of life which she worries is slipping from Botswana's grasp. Tradition continues to lead her to the truth and to reconcile the fact that truth does not always deploy happy endings. It's the achievement of this delicate balance and warm wit that keep this reader coming back for more. There is nothing new, as a previous reviewer notes, which is why I've nicked it a star, but I'm glad to have spent time with it. If this is your first encounter with the series, go to the first volume, THE NO.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY, to understand the impact its voice and world first made on its devotees.

Heartwarming Series of Novels

by Charles E. Jeffries

I have read the entire series of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels. My only complaint is that each of these is TOO SHORT. I like to spend a long time with a good novel, but reading one of these is extremely enjoyable but soon over...kind of like eating a tasty snack--addictive, but fleeting.I love these books mainly because of their heroine, Precious Ramotswe--a common sense, "traditionally built" woman in modern Africa. She and her quirky assistant solve simple mysteries but explore more universal truths about human nature. Smith has an engaging style that makes the narrative delightful. Hard to describe...you just have to read the books to understand. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

great book

by C. Starelli "avid reader"

I enjoy almost all of Alexander McCall Smith's books. I especially love the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series. although I love murder mysteries, this series very rarely deals with murders however the mysteries of human nature. Precious Ramotswe, the main character and owner of the Agency is delightful in her assessment of the character of others. Splendid reading.

No. 1

by Darlene Vaughn

I love the creative stories in all of Alexander McCall Smith's books. As I have mentioned before, many words describing the life in Botswana are repetitive all through the book. So I can only assume that this is a depiction of how the people in that country talk. At first it was annoying, but I realized that Smith is trying to depict the culture in its true manner.

Characters Are Just as Lovely as Ever

by Debnance at Readerbuzz

The ninth book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. The characters are just as lovely as ever. Precious Ramotswe has reached an age where she is a person of great wisdom. She takes action only after careful reflection, and her actions are taken out of love for her people and her country. She is a person I am happy to know, even if it has to all take place within the pages of a book.

Perfectly charming, again

by Debra Hamel

In this ninth installment in Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana series Mma Precious Ramotswe again confronts a series of small problems that come to her attention at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Most disturbing is her receipt of a threatening letter, which refers indelicately to her traditional build and to the over-large glasses of her associate, Mma Grace Makutsi. Mma Ramotswe is also tasked with locating any surviving family of a woman who believes herself to have been adopted, an assignment that turns out to be less straightforward than one would expect. As usual, Mma Ramotswe deals with matters with great wisdom and vast quantities of bush tea. And as usual, McCall Smith's writing is perfectly charming.The Miracle at Speedy Motors is the third book I've read in McCall Smith's series. Clearly, I have not managed to read the books in order, but the jumps I've encountered in the plot are not disorienting. For anyone who hasn't read the books yet I would advise jumping in, ideally starting with the first in the series (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency), but if that's not possible then anywhere will do. The novels are a treat that should not be missed.-- Debra Hamel

Join in on the enchanment.

by Diane Melbar

Have read many. He keeps writing them and I keep reading. They are wonderful.

Heart-Warming Vignettes About Caring for One Another

by Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!"

My favorite books in this series are filled with authentic stories of Africa and her people. As the series has developed, it's often reading more like people anywhere rather than Africans.The Miracle at Speedy Motors examines the themes of marital love, parental responsibility, honesty, jealousy, commitment, bonding, handling mistakes, and friendship. In keeping with the detective focus of the series, there are cases to be solved. A woman wants to find an unidentified person. Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi receive threatening letters. A landlord wants to get rid of a tenant.The focus of the book, however, is on the relationships among the continuing characters, especially Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and Mma Ramotswe, Mr. Phuti Radiphuti and Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe and Mr. Polopetsi, and Mma Makutsi and Charlie in the garage. You also get to read more about Mma Potokwane and Motholeli than in most of the other books.What made the book special to me were the heart-felt commitments that some of the characters made towards doing the right thing, no matter what. Alexander McCall Smith loves people and when he expresses that love through his characters it feels great just to be alive.I found Mma Makutsi more annoying than usual in this book, and not nearly as funny in her foolish scenes. Otherwise, I would have graded the book at five stars. I hope that the next book will focus more on Precious and her family.

Very high 4 -- so near a 5.

by D. Williams "Donna Williams"

(Note: This review comes from a gently-used previously-owned copy that is apparently the UK edition of the series. The cover is different from the one pictured here -- a leopard; the spellings are UK spellings throughout; and the original list price is given only in UK pounds.)This is latest book in "The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency" series, but the second that I have read; I found this book immensely enjoyable.Precious Ramotswe, the first and only lady detective in Botswana, has done it again in this gentle tale. She starts receiving anonymous threatening letters; she has a client in search of her true family; and her husband takes their disabled foster daughter to Johannesburg at great cost and high hopes for help for the daughter. The tone of this tale is gentle; one can almost imagine people gathered around a Botswanan storyteller spinning this tale.The only fault I can possibly find with this novel is that some U. S. readers could very easily be bogged down with the mix of Botswanan and Scottish dialect that McCall Smith uses, as well as some of the repetition and continual use of people's full names (Ramotswe's husband is always referred to and addressed as "Mr J. L. B. Matekoni."). However, if you follow my suggestion of imagining the story told rather than written, these so-called "problems" can work out very well. I recommend this book.

"One should not ask for too many things in this life."

by E. Bukowsky "booklover10"

Alexander McCall Smith's latest Precious Ramotswe novel, "The Miracle at Speedy Motors," once again celebrates the everyday blessings that too many of us tend to take for granted: the love of our friends and relatives, our good health, the beauty of one's native land, and the gratification that comes from doing our work well. Mma Ramotswe presides over the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana. Her associate is the blunt Grace Makutski, who never fails to mention her score of ninety-seven percent on her final exams at the Botswana Secretarial College. Grace can be smug and patronizing, particularly when she addresses Charlie, the perpetually irritating apprentice of Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni. Mr. Matekoni is Mma Ramotswe's sweet-natured and compassionate husband as well as the proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, where the detective agency occupies a small office. As always, Mma Ramotswe frequently quotes her hero, Clovis Anderson, who wrote "The Principles of Private Detection." This treasured book is the source of much of Mma Ramotswe's practical wisdom. As she drinks her refreshing morning cup of red bush tea, Mma Ramotswe ponders the case of an orphan, Manka Sebina, who wants to find out if she has any living relatives.Another matter that gives Precious pause is her receipt of a series of anonymous letters that are both insulting and vaguely threatening. Could the reserved Mr. Polopetsi, the general assistant at the garage and their occasional helper at the agency, be the source of the disturbing missives? Another subplot deals with the purchase of a beautiful bed with a heart-shaped headboard by Grace's fiancé, the kind gentleman, Phuti Radiphuti. Alas, the furniture brings Grace anguish instead of joy.This novel has vivid and nicely delineated characters: Grace Makutsi is still ambitious and has an exalted opinion of her abilities. She prides herself on her organizational skills: "A tidy office is an efficient office," she intones. Mma Potokwane, matron of the orphan farm, is a gold mine of information and the source of delicious fruit cakes that she barters for Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni's assistance around the orphan farm. Mr. Matekoni is often called upon to repair an old water pump, a bus, a tractor, and other broken down pieces of machinery.Mr. Matekoni and Mma Ramotswe share a house on Zebra Drive with their two foster children, a boy and girl named Puso and Motholeli. Puso is sometimes insecure and angry about his lot in life, and although Motholeli is confined to a wheel chair as a result of "transverse myelitis of the spinal cord," she has a generally upbeat personality. Although Motholeli's condition has been considered incurable until now, Mr. Matekoni learns that there is a doctor in Johannesberg who, against all odds, might enable his daughter to walk."The Miracle at Speedy Motors" is an amusing, touching, and gentle look at ordinary people who crave a meaningful connection with others and a purpose to their existence. There is a nostalgic bent to McCall Smith's tribute to those dearly departed who are still with us in spirit, even after they become "late" (Botswanan vernacular for having passed away). I never fail to sigh when Precious longingly remembers her beloved father, Obed Ramotswe, whom everyone respected. "He was a very good man," she says. "He loved his cattle. He loved his country." Even such a seemingly small matter as seasonal rains takes on great significance in the parched land of Botswana. Rain is a boon for the people, animals, and the dried out crops, and when it comes, everyone cheers. After all is said and done, Mma Ramotswe recognizes that some problems can be solved and others are beyond repair, "but the holding of hands, human hand in human hand, could help, could make the world seem less broken." What a lovely sentiment, so perfectly expressed.

Of Human Dignity

by Eileen Granfors

These books by McCall Smith are those that I read when the world gets me down. I love Mme Ramotswe, her ability to find the good in people and positive in situations. She loves her country (Botswana), her husband, and her children. As a "traditional" woman, she is unfettered by her bulk, enjoying the bright patterns of her native land. Although the plots are often skimpy, the people are delightful, and I love reading about an African nation that has a democratic government and healthy children.

A good read

by Em

Another excellent installment in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective series. A well written and satisfying read. Thank you Alexander McCall Smith!

What a truly charming book! Review for the unabridged audio CD version

by Gen of North Coast Gardening

I am a huge fan of McCall Smith's work, and buy his new books as soon as they come out. The Mma Ramotswe ones are by far my favorite, and I loved this so much that I had to slow myself down so I wouldn't finish listening in one day and then be sad that it was over.Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are back, solving some new problems for clients, but the investigations don't all go quite as planned. There are small issues and hitches along the way that add philosophical interest as to what the right thing to do could possibly be.Against the backdrop of detective work, Mma Ramotswe is worrying about Mr JLB Matekoni's meetings with a doctor who says he can help Motoleli learn to walk, even though earlier doctors have said there is absolutely no hope. Is this medical approach sound or is it just raising false hopes?Then, Mma Makutsi is the lucky recipient of a new bed from her fiance, Puti Radiputi. This bed is a thing of wonder, with its red velvet heart-shaped headboard, and Mma Makutsi treasures it. But this simple pleasure becomes complicated, and Mma Makutsi soon has to explain something unfortunate to her fiance.The simple and charming writing and events that happen in this book make it a true pleasure to read. I love listening to the audio version because Lisette Lecat does such a great job of everyone's voices, and has through the entire series. I can tell from her voice who is talking, even when it is a side character, and the storytelling, voices, and accents are never overdone. She always hits just the right balance, and I forget that I am not right there with the characters.Fans of the series will love this latest.

Miracle at Speedy Motors

by Glenda S. Wilson

Again read it, I have all of his book on the Detective Books I am so glad my brother told me about them G. Wilson

Too slow and repetitive

by Gr8ful "Love a good book"

I have enjoyed this series but this last book I found slow and rather boring. I still appreciate the nuggets of wisdom that eventually come to light as the story develops but overall I didn't enjoy this book much. I was getting so frustrated with the repetition... seemed like a third of the book was describing once again the white van, the large glasses, the traditionally built woman, and the landscape.

Tales from Botswana

by Jeanne Tassotto

In this, the ninth volume of the NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY novels begins Mma Ramotswe and her assistant Grace Makutsi have just received the agency's first threatening letter, unsigned of course. While the pair was wondering just who could have sent such a thing they get a client who brings a most unusual request. She is convinced that her late mother was not her mother at all and would like Precious to uncover the truth. Once she begins investigating though, Precious is once again left to ponder if the truth is really in everyone's, or anyone's, best interests. On a more personal level, which is where the real attraction to this story lies, Mma Makutsi on going engagement has once again hit a snag and even Mma Ramotswe's own usual domestic tranquility is threatened.These stories have mystery aspects but they are really secondary to the ongoing stories of the main characters. These backstories are spread out over the series so for maximum enjoyment the series should be read in order. Fans of perplexing problems should look elsewhere but those who appreciate gentle cozy stories will be delighted with these charming tales set in exotic Botswana.

Another delightful installment!

by Joanne Long

When my book club got together in March we met to discuss The Miracle at Speedy Motors. I can tell you from my viewpoint anyway, Smith did not disappoint once again with this installment.These books are always a short, light read, but also filled with good morals and lessons within the pages. As Mma Ramatswe tries to solve mysteries. her good manners and common sense always come first and help to create a positive outcome. She learned early on that by just asking people what she is looking for, she will usually get the answers she is looking for.There were only a couple of mysteries in this novel, and that was the main complaint from most of the ladies in the book club. Some thought that Smith spent a lot of time reviewing events that had taken place in previous novels and that may have taken away from the current story. I did not feel that way, as I felt a close connection with the current story. Overall, it seemed to be a novel about finding one's place in the world when you don't have any family left. Now that your family is gone, you have to embrace the new family that is given to you and move on with your life.Like I said, I really enjoyed this book and with themes of love, family, and acceptance, you may too! Although it wasn't one of our favorites this year, we still enjoyed the entertainment it provided. It's such fun to sit down and read this book with a cup of tea, as you can feel that Mma Ramatswe is right there with you.

"In God We Trust"

by Jon Linden

This installment in the "Ladies No. 1 Detective Series" continues to develop the familiar characters of the Agency and the Mechanic Garage where Mma Ramotse's husband, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni works. There is a primary new case that the agency works, a case of a missing family. In addition, there is an attempt to restore the legs of Mma R and J. L. B. Matekoni's foster children who is confined to a wheelchair.Interwoven in the story seems to be the issue of trust. It is a story about those who can be trusted and those who cannot be. A story about information that can be trusted, and information that is somewhat less worthy of immediate acceptance. It is a story about how people can change and how people don't change. These elements play the principle roles in this segment of the long saga of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.Smith notes that people can be on both sides of the trust line and sometimes, what seems to be untrustworthy behavior is anything but that. The good helper, Mr. Polopetsi, who contributes to the garage and the detective agency in his efforts is called into question. The trustworthiness of clients and informants is contemplated and sorted out. And the trust in doctors and the inexactness of science and medicine are illustrated.Yet at its culmination, even with this equivocating nature of trust, there are miracles that are performed or come to pass. While not all miracles are huge miracles, they are miracles nonetheless. People need to understand that we should come to appreciate what we have, and always look to improve ourselves and our situation, without injury or malice to others. These are the basic tenets of McCall Smith's most recent book. These are the things of which life is made. These are the things that we encounter each and every day, yet only a discerning eye and an empathetic understanding will help guide us through the maze of signs and occurrences that life brings to us.The book is one more fine addition to a long and interesting story which deals very specifically with the ethics of life and the morality of human interaction. It is as all of the books in the series highly recommended to all readers who have an interest in understanding the actions of people in society and how people interact with others to make a world that is at best, unpredictable, but also can be greatly satisfying when people respect other people. It is very much worth the time to read this quickly moving story as an addition to the wonderful adventures of the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency.

Number One Ladies' Detective Agency

by Judy J.

This is a delightful series. Easy, pleasant reading. You really get to know the characters better and better with each succeeding volume. I have read 1-9, and now I have to purchase the rest, 10-13.

A sweet instalment in this endearing series

by Julia Flyte

This is the 9th book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and it's not the best place to start. All the familiar characters make an appearance together with the introduction of Violet Sephotho who will become a recurring villain. This is a lovely, warm and comforting series in which - like many of Alexander McCall Smith's books - musings on how to live a better (or at least kinder) life are as much a part of the reading pleasure as the story itself.In this instalment, Mma Ramotswe is contracted to find the family of a woman who has recently learned that she was adopted as a child. At the same time, she and Mma Matkutsi are receiving threatening letters that perhaps have come from someone that they know very well. Mr J L B Matekoni is in pursuit of a miracle cure for their daughter who is confined to a wheelchair. And Mma Matkutsi and her fiance Phuti Radiphuti go bed shopping.As always, Botswana remains an idyllic and sunny place, where people take pride in their country, realise the value of politeness and respect for others and where even the usual causes for gloom - like a rainy day - are blessings. As mystery novels, these books don't really deliver, but as literary comfort food, they deliver in spades.


by Karen A. Leeper "5th Grade Teacher"

I LOVE this series. The characters are engaging and I love reading about the quiet African life. Well worth it.

The gentle world of Precious Ramotswe

by Karen Potts

Alexander McCall Smith is back with another book in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series. Three of the main characters have situations which comprise the plot lines of the book. First of all, a client comes to Mma Ramotswe with a request that she find her lost biological family. Her assistant, Mmma Makutsi, and her fiance, Phuti, have a problem with a bed, and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, pays a high price to seek a cure for their foster daughter, Motholeli. Added to this, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi receive threatening and insulting letters from an anonymous person. As always, these plots are woven together throughout the book, and the ending neatly ties them up. This is not as clever a book as some of the others in the series, but it maintains the charm of Botswana and of lives lived with optimism and gratitude for the small blessings of life.

sweetness and insight

by Karen Sampson Hudson

"The Miracle at Speedy Motors", like every book from McCall Smith, is filled with sweetness, insight into the hearts of the characters, appreciation for the beauty of Botswana, and a candor that simplifies all problems, however complex or overwhelming they may seem to be. As Mma Ramotswe says at one point, "Sometimes everything could just seem too much." But a cup of bush tea and a slice of fruit cake with her good friend, bring comfort better than words.In the unraveling of problems, kindness triumphs, and Mma Ramotswe is an inveterate dispenser of tactful, gentle kindness. The entire Botswana series, as well as McCall's other books set in Edinburgh, are highly recommended. There is food for the heart in each one, and in the deceptively simple stories you will discover a subtle wisdom that will inform your own life.


by Kindle Customer

I love the Andrew McAll Smith books, both about Africa and about Scotland, but the African books are so special to me. There are very few books that I read over and over again, but rereading one of Smith's books is so refresing, so inspiring, so up lifting. To take simple life experiences and misunderstandings to a whole new level of understanding of human nature to an touching level of humanity is just incredible. I missed McAll-Smith when he was here a Pacific Luther University, but my heart was with him and Ruranda. Would that it would be like how he writes about it. You don't need a review of the story or to have read his previous books, just enjoy whats on the page and let the climate an attitudes wash over you to take you to a place that you wished you might visit and embrace.

Great series!

by Luckduck

Love this series! Mma Ramotswe and her family, employees, and clients always make for entertaining reading. The beautiful descriptions of Botswana and the author's obvious love for the country make me want to visit there!

Listen to an African Voice

by Marco Antonio Abarca

This is the ninth book in Alexander McCall Smith's "No.1 Ladies Detective Series". I would imagine that most readers of this review will be like me, a long time fan of the series. McCall Smith's vision of a civil society with Precious Remotswe at its center is a real pleasure to visit.For me, reading is how I usually enjoy books. But there are times, when books are better listen to, rather than read. Lisette Lecat is a talented South African actor who narrates the audio cd versions of the books. I love her accent and enjoy hearing the names of people and places pronounced correctly. I would bet that if you start listening to the books, you will not go back to reading them. Highly recommended.

Definition of a Miracle

by Marion Marchetto "author of The Bridgewater C...

The latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series brings us back together with the unforgettable characters of Precious Ramotswe (owner of said detective agency), her capable assistant Mma Makutsi, her calm and understated husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, and of course those irrepressible garage apprentices.Most everyone tends to think of a miracle as something grand and extraordinary. The people who work at or near Speedy Motors are surely due for something grand to happen in their lives and we are not disappointed.The first miracle we encounter is the start of the rainy season bringing with it a downpour of biblical proportions. Within a day the parched and thirsty countryside is turned from brown to a lush green and gives the promise that the crops will produce abundantly.Mma Makutsi and her fiance find a wonderful piece of furniture in their newly bought marriage bed which becomes destroyed when Mma Makutsi has the deliverymen leave it outside her home because it won't fit through her doors. Of course it was the life-giving rain that destroyed the beautiful red brocade heart-shaped headboard. How will she ever tell her fiance what she has done?Mma Ramotswe has undertaken to find the family of a woman who became orphaned while trying to ascertain the author or nasty letters that arrive at the agency. Could it be that Precious Ramotswe has somehow offended a former client and how can she make things right? This situation is resolved by Charlie the garage apprentice who spots the culprit and a chaplinesque chase through the grocery store ensues.Thanks to the rain, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has been summoned to help start the car of a doctor who believes that there is hope for the wheelchair-bound adopted daughter of the garage owner. Mr. Matekoni finds himself applying for a mortgage on the garage to take the child to Johannesburg and to a clinic there where it is hoped they can help her walk again. Indeed, I found myself hoping wholeheartedly that this would be the miracle promised by the title.Alas, Mr. Matekoni and his daughter return home with her still bound to her wheelchair.Mma Makutsi learns that her fiance is a forgiving man when she tells him of the destroyed bed. And Mma Ramotswe's client, who at first learns that she has a brother, is quite happy with the turn of events at learning that our intrepid lady detective was the recipient of incorrect information.It seems that along with everyone in Gaborone, and especially at Speedy Motors, we are reminded to look for the miracles in our everyday lives: seeing the sun upon awakening, hearing the call of a bird in the tree, having a roof over our heads and someone with which to share a cup of bush tea.I highly recommend all of the books in this series and look forward to the next one.

Telling the Truth

by Mary E. Sibley

The agency occupies a small office at the side of a garage. Precious Ramotswe enjoys tracing people. Mma Ramotswe believes an anonymous missive is the work of an envious person.Mma Ramotswe's methodology as a detective is derived from reading Clovis Andersen's THE PRINCIPLES OF PRIVATE DETECTION. Mma Sebina is the client. She wants the detective to find out her real birth date and some people. Mr. Matekoni is Mma Ramotswe's husband. The couple have two foster children. Mr. Matekoni has recovered from his depression and his doctor has instructed him to avoid anxiety.Grace Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe's assistant, is engaged to Phuti Radiphuti. He is the proprietor of The Double Comfort Furniture Shop. It is arranged a new bed is to be stored at Mma Makutsi's residence until after the wedding. (Marriage negotiations have stalled over a relative's request to the groom that he provide an astronomical number of cattle.)Trying to discover her client's biography, Mma Ramotswe is informed by one person that she was an ungrateful child. In the rains the new bed that had been stored against Grace Makutsi's house, since the door was too small to permit it to be carried indoors, is ruined. The headboard had been heart-shaped.When Precious Ramotswe drives out to the countryside where she had resided as a child she determines she should solve the problems troubling her mind by assuming that everyone is telling the truth. Mma Ramotswe keeps the Botswana Penal Code in her office for reference. In it some things tending to disturb the peace are not covered.The charming characters in this series have been made, not surprisingly, into a television show. The story in this novel is amusing. More interesting yet are some of the peculiarities of language. A heavy woman is someone of traditional build. A person who dies is someone who has become late.

"Some of our [country has vanished], maybe. But not the heart that beats right inside...That is still there."

by Mary Whipple

In this ninth novel in the Alexander McCall Smith series, Precious Ramotswe, the "traditionally built" proprietor of the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana, receives a threatening letter: "Fat lady: you watch out! And you too, the one with the big glasses." Mma Ramotswe and her assistant, Grace Makutsi, of the big glasses, are startled by this letter, and Mma Ramotswe even begins to believe that she is being followed. As the two women deal with their business and their lives, the letter haunts them--it is so uncharacteristic of the gentle, sweet-spirited life of Botswana, a place where, in Mma Ramotswe's experience, almost any problem can be worked out over a cup of bush tea.Continuing the stories of Mma Ramotswe and those around her, this novel, like its predecessors, contains a mystery or two, along with many episodes of daily life which develop the characters further, quietly teach a few lessons, and show how humor and polite behavior can improve even the worst of situations. The central mystery of the novel is uncomplicated. A woman has come to Mma Ramotswe because she believes that she is not the daughter of her late "mother," and she wants Mma Ramotswe to find her birth family.Subplots galore keep the stories flowing. The fuss-budget-y Grace Makutsi, who is engaged to marry a wealthy furniture seller, picks out an elaborate bed which she and her husband will occupy after they are married. When she has it delivered to her house, the bed precipitates a disaster. At the same time, Mma Ramotswe begins to suspect that one of the employees of Speedy Motors, the auto repair shop run by her honest and honorable husband, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, is the author of the threatening letter. When Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni meets a doctor who convinces him that their wheelchair-bound daughter Motholeli might be able to walk again, he will to stop at nothing--not even the doctor's enormous fee--to help her.More a series of short episodes in the life of Mma Ramotswe than a mystery in the traditional sense, the novel creates a warm, feel-good atmosphere which provides a respite from the insistent realism of other contemporary detective stories, and ultimately, the "miracle" of Speedy Motors becomes obvious. Escape reading of the highest order, the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency series features characters who feel familiar, make us love them, and inspire us to obey our best instincts. (5 stars for character, 3 for plot) n Mary WhippleIn the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency)The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency)Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 7)Confessions of a Serial Novelist

Great Escapism

by Miami Bob "Resurgent Reading"

Botswana's greatest emissary may be McCall Smith. Writing this magnificent series which lightly adorns the travails and routines of this seemingly simpler society creates majestic reading which transcends to tranquility - one which allows American readers a retreat from long work days, long work weeks.Although the plot line may be appropriately labeled thin in this book, the strength of McCall Smith is character and writing style. In Hemingwayesque fashion he stealthily delivers all-star prose in a series which would be more appropriately donned the title of "series mystery." To paraphrase others, "This is no ordinary series by no ordinary writer."But, Botswana is changing. McCall Smith reminds us of this fact. Its genuine naivete, its beloved innocence is not forever more. "She suddenly unfolded her resting hands and gestured in the air to illuminate the immensity of the problems which people faced."Conflicted by this evolution of cultural norms, protagonist Mma Ramotswe cooly must admit, "Sometimes I feel that our whole country has gone."But, it seems to good people do come good things. Miracles? Perhaps. Or fate. Or neither. Within the confines of small (2,000,000 people) Botswana, Mma Ramotswe understood that ". . . out here, out in the acacia scrub that stretched away to those tiny island-like hills on the horizon, the concerns of the working world seemed of little weight."The greatest parts of the book are the encounters by total stranger Mma Ramotswe with people to whom she seeks leads for her investigative work. Do they speak to her? Yes. Do they lie to her like all witnesses do to Lenny and the other lieutenants in television's "Law and Order?" No. Simple answers to simple questions are culturally expected.And, amid McCall Smith's literary tranquil world comes his prose. This is not little leaguer literature. As I read the following passage, my salivating glands watered my mouth. "The rivers, for long months little more than dusty beds of rust-coloured sand, appeared again, filled to overflowing in small cases, twisting snakes of mud-brown water moving across the plains."There is magic in this writing. It is light, but sneakily delivers first class prose. It reads quickly, and the good guys always prevail. All generations can read these works, and all should. There is nothing I regret about having spent a few hours on this novel.

A Cozy Gossip Over Tea Cups

by Miz Ellen "all the letters of my real name"

Were this any other writer and any other mystery series, this novel would earn a low rating for its slender plot. Hardly anything "happens". No new ground is broken, however, like all the previous books in this series, I found myself enchanted by the characters and the setting. Alexander McCall Smith writes with great charm about small things: a ruined bed, a series of threatening letters and information gleaned from gossip over numerous cups of bush tea.Mwa Ramotswe helps a woman who is looking for her family. She tracks down the author of the threatening letters; the high speed chase with grocery carts is unique in literature. The author weaves his small minutiae into a mighty tapestry that is the mystery of Life. I can't say this is a good mystery but it comes close to great literature. I am reminded of the charming series by "Miss Read" which covered life in a small British village over a period of several decades. Hardly anything else can compare.

Another nice story

by Neale Blackwood "Neale"

Another great book in the series. I saw AMS talk a few weeks ago and he mentioned the shopping trolley chase in this book.

wonderful visit with old friends

by N. Ferguson "Two, Daisy, Hannah, and Kitten"

Another gentle comedy about real friends who become family. In the tradition of the James Herriot "All Creatures Great and Small" books, this series is beloved because it allows us to spend time with characters who are good but imperfect people.My favorite aspect of this book is the dilemma faced by Mma Makutsi, following the purchase for her (by her fiance) of an enormous bed with a "beautiful" heart-shaped headboard.Mma Ramotswe and the apprentices also solve the mystery of who is sending hate mail to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's love for his foster child leads him to take a leap of faith.These are old friends I care very much about. The next book in this series cannot come soon enough. :)

Comfort reading

by Patto

A trip to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is a sure cure for stress. There's something very soothing about the pace of life in Botswana - and the logical mind and good manners of the head of the agency, Maa Ramotswe. Not to mention the constant tea breaks. Problems there are, or who would need a lady detective? But nothing seems to arise that can't be solved or at least accepted.In this book Maa Ramotswe sets out to trace the biological family of a woman who was adopted. The outcome is somewhat predictable, but nonetheless charming.As for the miracle of the title, it has to do with a doctor who says he can cure a little girl in a wheelchair - the adopted daughter of Maa Ramotswe and her husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. Maa Ramotswe is skeptical about the promised miracle, since it also promises to be costly. But Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is willing to go into hock for it.In the midst of all these concerns, Maa Ramotswe must also deal with threatening letters from an anonymous writer.As always in this series, Maa Ramotswe's strong-minded assistant Maa Makutsi provides comical subplots with her rather vulgar taste in fashion and furnishings.So yes, I'd say this book is up to the standards of the earlier books in the series, and well worth reading.

another pleasant visit to Botswana

by Paul Skinner

You can't go wrong by picking up a #1 Ladies Detective book. They are heartwarming. In this one, Mma Ramotswe is asked to find the biological mother of a client, and in the process, discovers somebody else that is very interesting. Mma Ramotswe is also bugged by anonymous threatening letters dropped off from time to time at the Tlokweng Speedy Motors garage. Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi has to figure out what to do about a gift she received from her fiance, Mr Phuti Radiphuti (don't you love the illiteration?). And finally, what is the miracle? Will Motheleli get the medical miracle to walk again? Enjoy this book and thank you Mr McCall Smith for a wonderful addtion to this treasured series.

As exciting as watching paint peel

by Reader "piratebean"

This was my first foray into Smith's well-regarded novels. I had been warned that they moved slowly, but that is not necessarily a criticism. Many brilliant works move slowly, not only because of the rhythm of the prose, but also because the reader lingers over passages.This text, on the other hand, is just downright dull. The entire story could be distilled onto one piece of paper, and it's hardly an interesting story at that. The writing is so simple that I began to suspect that Smith thinks his primary audience of readers is either barely literate or brain-damaged.Maybe people are attracted to these novels because they're the sort of stories that you can read while half asleep or otherwise distracted, and not miss a thing. Or because you could lose your place in the text and start reading many pages later, and still not have missed anything. In that case, however, I do not see the point of reading anything. I've read nutrition labels with more interest.One other problem is that I'm sure that many people who have never been to Africa are interested in these novels because they take place in Botswana, and it is fun to read about locales we have never visited. However, there seemed to be very little in this novel that gave the reader any insight into Botswanan culture. If you changed the characters' names to more common Anglicized ones, and dropped the practice of referring to dead people as "late", and dropped the minor side story about trading cattle for a bride, you'd have a story that is so generic that it could take place anywhere.So, the novel is slow, dull, and tells us little about the culture where it takes place. Sorry, Smith, but that's not my idea of a good read.

Things are slowing down at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors...

by R S Cobblestone

The Miracle at Speedy Motors is the latest installment in the successful No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, by Alexander McCall Smith.Mma Ramotswe has a case or two to investigate. There are the threatening letters. Phuti Radiphuti has bought Mma Makutsi a bed with a heart, but there is no wedding date. And Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni spends a fortune seeking a miracle treatment for his adopted daughter's condition, without consulting Precious Ramotswe.In the meantime, there are references to traditional Botswana, lazy apprentices, big glasses, bush tea, and cattle.If you are a No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency fan, this will make sense. If this is your first experience with Mma Ramotswe, this is not the book to start with.I am a big fan of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. This one hit all of the features that attract me to this series in the first place, but I've read enough of them that this one came across as... dull. Nothing new. I didn't learn more about Mma Ramotswe, Phuti Radiphuti, Mma Makutsi, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, or Botswana.But I'm still a fan.Time for a wedding!

Love It

by ruby

Each new book is as good or better than the last. I love this series. The characters, the setting, the antics.

More delightful philosophising from Mma Ramotswe (Book 9 in the Series),

by S. Barnes

Fans of Alexander McCall Smith's 'Ladies Detective Agency' series are sure to enjoy this latest offering. I just love the series. The author has a talent for making you feel right at home in Gabarone, Botswana, with Mma Ramotswe, Mr J.L.P. Matekoni, Mma Makutsi and the other colourful characters in the novels. Crossing continents is not a problem as McCall Smith brings these characters to life in a wonderfully vivid way.With touches of understated comic irony, the books are a delightful light-hearted read. Watch out for the moral elements - Mma Ramotswe spends a lot of her time philosophising on life, and the good old days in particular when morals were better, young people were more polite, there was more respect in society and, of course, there were more 'traditionally built' women too!... but her moments of reflection just add to the charm of this series!In 'The Miracle at Speedy Motors', Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi (newly promoted to 'Associate' Detective (!) have some serious detective work to deal with, including a nasty piece of malicious mail directed at the agency ("Fat Lady Watch Out"!)and a lady who has requested that the detectives find her some relatives... Mr J.L.B. Matekoni is hoping for a miracle for Motholeli; Mma Makutsi has some life crises of her own - should she tell her fiance about the fiasco with the bed?; Will Mma Makutsi and young Charlie, the apprentice finally see eye-to-eye?!; and we hear a bit more about Mma Ramotswe and Mr J. L. B. Matekoni's fostered children, Motholeli and Puso, in this book too. All-in-all you'll find here a few delightful hours of pure light-hearted entertainment.

A series that continues providing wisdom and insight

by S. Deeth "Sheila Deeth"

Reading book 9 of Alexander McCall Smith's Number one Ladies' Detective Agency is every bit as enjoyable as you'd expect after reading 1 to 8. I know I'm behind. I know real addicts are already on book 11, but I'm catching up. Botswana continues to enthrall the reader with its beauty, the gentle pace of its culture, the quiet way it reflects a different version of ourselves in might-have-beens. Precious Ramotswe continues to seek and learn, from quiet mountain-side splendor that calms, to flustered concerns of secrets only half-uncovered. Mma Makutsi continues to grow into her role, slowly learning that secrets are better when set free and shared. And the promised miracle that threads throughout the tale? Well, you'll have to read to find out, but the author assuredly doesn't cheat to pull it out of the bag. Even the obdurate apprentices are growing older in this series, where everything changes with time but stays just as sane, just as wise and real and interesting as it was in the beginning.

Prizes little-noticed

by Stephen A. Haines

We're all familiar with the big miracles: the little child as sole survivor of an airplane crash or the earthquake victim pulled alive from rubble a week after the event. Precious Ramotswe, however, is sensitive to the other kind, the little miracles with long-term meaning for family affairs. Founder of The Number One Ladies Detective Agency of Gabarone, Botswana, Precious has been rather miraculous in her own right. She solves others' problems, counsels her colleague, Grace Makutsi. Precious has also has an ongoing miracle with her husband, Mr JLB Matekoni, owner of Speedy Motors on the Tlokweng Road. But all that good fortune, and the notoriety gained thereby, seems to have produced an enemy, who is sending her threatening letters.McCall Smith's many volumes in this series has allowed him to fill and strengthen his regular characters, while introducing drop-ins who never fail to leave an impact. Charlie, Mr JLB Matekoni's shop apprentice is a fine example. Appearing regularly in a minor role, Charlie seems readily predictable: brash, self-centred and arrogant, he seems destined never to mature. Is he a candidate for things miraculous? McCall Smith's portrayals are the foundations around which these fine stories are constructed. This may well be the peak effort, a finely written and gripping tale of mystery and resolution.Precious' skills as a detective are on full display here, as is her humanity. She faces a serious challenge from the letters. Tracking down their originator will be a daunting task. Is she up to facing a serious enemy? Woven into this story is a shift in Mr JLB Matekoni's relations with Precious. A sudden act of independence might lead to tragedy for the family and his workshop. Yet, because the act is one of deep humanity, Precious is unable to resist his desire to see if their crippled adopted daughter, Motholeli can be successfully treated. Grace Makutsi becomes caught up in a web of deceit and fabrications. Is the web so tight it may choke her engagement to Phuti Radiphuti, owner of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop?One thing you may count on with McCall Smith is a reasonably happy ending. At least, there are no serious tragedies to cope with. This one is no different, except in the sense that "miracles" must be openly defined. That is, after all, how real life works. The author brings you to his conclusions with his usual grace and wit. Applying many depths to his stories and their protagonists, a McCall Smith can be taken up again with no regrets. This one is unquestionably one of those. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]

I love Precious Ramotswe, but this is not her best outing

by Terry Mathews

I love Alexander McCall Smith's series about Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and "Botswana's foremost solver of problems," but this edition lacked the presence of an editor and some of the plot simply didn't fit.As with many best selling authors, it seems once they reach McCall Smith's, their editors toss the rule book out the window.In "The Miracle at Speedy Motors," McCall Smith's ninth No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, he really does run amok with the use of unnecessary "that". When arbitrarily stuck into a sentence, "that" is like a pause button to the reader and its use weighs heavily after only a few pages.A sentence like"You said that you hoped that I would be able to trace some family members for you."loses no meaning without the two unnecessary 'thats' ..."You said you hoped I would be able to trace some family members for you."Another example:"Mr. Anderson says that you should not pass judgment on your client's behaviour.""Mr. Anderson says you should not pass judgment on your client's behaviour."Another:"She had assumed that this was the livery of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, but had been told that it was not, that Phuti himself had painted it as a decoration.""She had assumed this was the livery of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, but had been told it was not; Phuti himself had painted it as a decoration."Sticking "that" in just anywhere is an easy habit for authors to acquire. It's the editor's job to weed them out of the final draft.While the editing leaves a lot to be desired, McCall Smith uses his substantial gifts as a storyteller to weave another charming tale from dusty Botswana.The plot contains three interesting questions: (1) Will Mma Ramotswe find a client's long-lost family members; (2) How will the issue of a ruined bed play out between Mma Makutsi (Mma Ramotswe's able assitant) and her fiancé; and (3) Will Motholeli (Mma Ramotswe and her husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's adopted daughter) ever walk again? There's a fourth red herring tossed into the mix, but it doesn't really seem to fit, nor does its conclusion really settle anything. Again, a good editor would have red-lined it out of the story altogether.While the mysteries aren't particularly compelling, they do push the story along. What makes McCall Smith's books so charming are his warm, caring character, their respect for each other and their love of their country.I recommend reading the series in order of publication. Getting to know Precious Ramotswe and her friends is not a quick trip on an amusement park ride. It's more like a leisurely stroll around the tidal basin in Washington, D.C., during cherry blossom time. You want to savor every moment.Note: HBO has just completed filming on the first of several specials based on McCall Smith's series. Can't wait to see jazz singer Jill Scott, a "traditionally built" woman, in the title role. McCall Smith visited the set and said he was "most pleased" with Scott's casting and performance.If you're new to this series, read the other eight books first. If you read this one without getting to know the characters and their relationship to one another, you might not pick up the others ... and that would be a shame, because the sweet, gentle series is well worth your time.Enjoy!


by T. Herbert "Amazon shopper"

This is series is a lot like the old days of television, simply entertaining with a few life lessons thrown in along the way.

A great addition to the series...

by Tracy L.

Another great addition to this wonderful series of books. The characters are always interesting and, despite of what another reviewer wrote, never dull. This book will not disappoint any fan of the series as it continues along the same path as the previous books without getting tired or boring.The simplistic style of writing is nothing more than brilliant as the "mysteries" to be solved are often those of the heart, soul and mind. What more can be said? A truly wonderful series of books with a great new addition.

Absolutely Charming, As Always

by Wendy Kaplan

If you have not listened to the Ladies Detective Agency books on CD, narrated by the incomparable Lisette Lecat, do yourself a favor and get one immediately! I love these books, but when I listen to the pronounciations (e.g., Pooh-tee Rah-tah-POO-tee), I feel like I am right beside Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi in Botswana.This tale is as lovely as all the rest, and one of my favorites in the series. The two lady detectives are hard at work on some difficult cases, but something is up with Mr. J.L.B. Matakoni; we fear he has been taken in by a medical charlatan, who has promised a "miracle" in curing the couple's wheelchair-bound daughter. So evocative is this situation, you find yourself talking aloud: No, Mr. J.L.B. Matakoni, please don't do it!!Then we have the Adventures of the Bed with the Heart-Shaped Red Velvet Headboard--I won't do a spoiler here, but let us just say that the bed has captured Mma Makutsi's heart. (could not resist the pun) I was laughing aloud in my car more than once!Yes, the lothario apprentice Charlie is very much in evidence, and actually inadvertently helps on a case!Do yourself a favor, and read or listen to this fabulous book, perfect for summer, perfect for any time you want the gentle kindness that permeates this series.

A Slight Slip in a Wonderful Series of Books

by zorba

Smith might be getting a little worn out. This installment of the Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is good, but not up to the usual standard. Maybe with the TV series and the need to keep coming up with new books, the author is getting a little burned out. Maybe he needs to go off with some bush tea and take a break. On the other hand, I may be too much influenced by the TV series and perhaps it is I who is overdosing on Precious Ramotswe. In any case, none of this is meant to disparage this book. When Smith is off he is much much better than most authors when they're on. It's just that I don't think this book resonates as well as the others in the series. But it's still a good book, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to subsequent additions to this irresistible and classic series of books.

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