In one of my early posts I had written about Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series and it’s estimable protagonist, Precious Ramotswe. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, the eighth installment in this wonderful series , has just been published and it is as good as it’s predecessors.
In the course of an Indian music performance, the artiste briefly yields the stage to each of the accompanists to give them their moment in the limelight. So also, in The Good Husband, Mma. Ramotswe’s supporting cast gets their turn to star. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni decides that he wants to follow up in the case of the philandering husband. He also begins to wonder if Precious is beginning to find him boring. Charlie, Mr. Matekoni’s feckless apprentice , decides to strike out on his own and starts a taxi service with his boss’s reluctant help.Grace Makutsi , she of the 97% score in her typing finals, gets tired of playing second fiddle to Mma. Ramotswe and quits the Detective Agency. Stitching all their individual stories together is Precious Ramotswe with her gracious presence, her spirit and her compassion . Sometimes , when she muses about her beloved Botswana and her late father , the saintly Obed Ramotswe, the words sound familiar as if repeated from earlier books but so deft is McCall Smith’s writing that we don’t mind. The detective cases that she solves are not complicated or even important but then these books are not about mystery. We read them to bask in the African sun in the company of Precious and Grace Makutsi and Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and ….
I had somehow gotten the impression that The Good Husband of Zebra Drive was to be the final installment in this series but I think I was mistaken. There still seem to be many loose threads to attend to. For instance, the orphans Motholele and Puso whom Precious and J.L.B. Matekoni have adopted. Except for one wonderfully touching interlude between the crippled Motholele and Precious, they do not figure at all in this book. And Grace Makutsi , though now engaged to Phuti Radiphuti is yet to marry him. Surely McCall Smith is going to tell us how it all turns out. Will Motholele succeed in her desire to work as a mechanic alongside J.L.B. Matekoni ? Surely we are going to find out more about Puso. And what of the changed dynamic between Grace Makutsi and Precious ? How is it all going to pan out ? No, I don’t think this is the end.
Au revoir, Mma Ramotswe. Till we meet again and may it be soon.