In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
by Alexander McCall Smith
Recommended Ages: 13+
First there's the matter of Charlie, the elder of Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's two idle, girl-crazy apprentices. He falls under the spell of a rich married woman and impulsively quits his job, risking the ruin of his entire future and forcing the garage to hire a certain Mr. Polopetsi, an educated man with a troubled past.
Next Mma Ramotswe's first husband, the cruel and magnetic Note Mokoti, shows up and demands money in return for staying silent about the fact they are really still married. While trying to figure out what to do, Mma Ramotswe drives her tiny white van out to the village where Note's mother lives, only to see her faithful old vehicle first broken down in the bush, then stolen.
Meantime Mma Makutski takes a lead in solving the agency's one paying case for the time being, while also trying a dance class and meeting a man who evokes first her irritation, then her compassion, and finally her love.
How they fit all these adventures into one thin little book, and still have room for a burglar who flees without his trousers and a pumpkin that mysteriously appears on the porch, is a mystery you will only solve by reading this book yourself.
If you do, you will join multitudes of readers who have been touched, amused, and fascinated by the kindness, the cultural richness, the problem-solving resourcefulness of Mma Ramotswe, and the colorful circle of characters around her. I, for one, am looking forward to borrowing the local library's copy of the next book in the series, Blue Shoes and Happiness.