Alibi V.22 No.45 • Nov 7-13, 2013 

Book Review

A Few Small Repairs

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon


Business is good at Botswana’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and the cases are curious, indeed. Why is someone trying to sabotage the opening of Mma Soleti’s new beauty parlor, the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon? Is it sour grapes, or is something darker at play?

And is it possible that a young man is only posing as the nephew of Rra Edgar Molapo in order to inherit his farm?

These are the cases before Precious Ramotswe—a woman of “traditional build” and, as the first and only female private detective in Botswana, of increasingly modern sensibilities. In order to solve these mysteries, she must reconcile the conflicts between the old and the new Botswana—between modern mindsets and traditional folk beliefs. The tensions between the past and the future are at their peak as Gaborone swelters, awaiting the rainy season and the relief it promises.

Mma Ramotswe’s deep and abiding love for her country inform all of her interactions with the other unique characters in this book—the prickly Mma Makutsi, whose nearly superhuman typing skills and filing wizardry are the stuff of legend; the kindly Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe’s old-fashioned husband who is struggling to become more modern to please his beloved wife, and the smart and independent “lady-lawyer” Mma Sheba, who may be hiding a decidedly unprofessional interest in the case she needs Mma Ramotswe to solve.

Will the heat affect Mma Ramotswe’s ability to coolly assess the facts of the cases entrusted to her? More importantly, will it come between Mma Makutsi and her preternatural typing speed—or is there something else slowing her down?

The 14th novel in Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon is unerringly charming without ever provincializing either the country it inhabits or its citizens and the traditions that they alternately embrace and eschew. (The series was brought to the small screen in 2008, though cancelled after just one season. Mma Ramotswe was marvelously played by the incomparable Jill Scott.)

After enjoying this novel, there would seem nothing better in the world than to brew a nice pot of redbush tea and settle in with any or all of the previous 13 books in the series—preferably with a large slice (or two) of Mmapuso’s excellent fruit cake.