Once again Alexander McCall Smith chronicles the happenings at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and at Speedy Motors with his usual wit and wisdom, and not one extra word. McCall Smith has the singular gift of writing with awareness, consciousness, acceptance and insight into the human condition without even the merest suggestion of psychobabble. I like the psychobabble books too, no question about that, but this author seems to accomplish the same result with his fictional crew and their life stories.
And many bows to the narrator, who continues to bring this now familiar Botswanan cast of characters to life!
I have often noticed, as the Grisham books have been published over the years, that the stories and characters seem a bit more exaggerated with each new release. What audible does not mention is that his recent books have been produced in collaboration with another writer, which probably helps his turnout rate and thus $$$ for the publisher. The collaboration is mentioned on a hard copy of any recent book - it's clearly indicated. So there's the reason for the subtle changes, and I miss the more nuanced and detailed writing of the earlier books. Now I am picking up a more "popular fiction" vibe, and noticing a few characters that seem almost cartoonish, which I lament, even though the books, this one no exception, are always entertaining. However, some of the introspection is lost, and so too is my identification with the characters and situations.
I really like this narrator, and actually prefer him to the "southern lite" reader who usually does the books that are located in the deep South.
This is an incredible book. WIthout the slightest bit of fantasy or hyperbole, the author shows the reader that the real demons are those inside of us. It's difficult to write about the unparalleled brilliance of this story arc, it's sidebars and underlayers, and the author's out-of-the-box imagining of the characters, without hugely spoiling. It's a bit techno-thriller, a bit relationship commentary, and there is a lot of narrative whiplash where the story takes a sharp turn and you're left with "well, I didn't see that one coming".
The author's writing style couldn't be more sophisticated and loaded with complex imagery and phraseology - I found myself writing down word-bytes that were just off-the-charts clever and overflowing with wit.
While it's possible to pick up an anti-elitist vibe, it's all done with humor and mastery. Then on the other hand, there's an anti "average" vibe, critiquing those whose middle of the road lives seem to the main character as achieving a degree of dullness that is beyond belief. It's a dual message, but it's navigated delicately by the author. Wealthy big city snobbery is mixed with a huge putdown of the predictable choices made by the affluent.
Both narrators picked the perfect tone for this reading.
It's a great listen, and I did not want it to end. And actually - in a way, it doesn't. The two main characters are caught in a trap of their own making.