Friday, September 4, 2009

Book: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

As with most series, the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series is starting to run down. The tenth (and latest) is TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT by Alexander McCall Smith and shows signs of being produced more because it is expected than out of the inspiration of a story. There are more--and more flagrant--red herrings than in the earlier books, as if it needed padding out. And the editing has gotten sloppy (assuming it has not been dropped altogether). For example, on page 20, Mma Ramotswe's appointment with Mr. Molofololo is at eleven o'clock; on page 29 it is at ten o'clock. (And why are some men "Mr." and some men "Ra"?) And who is writing the blurbs? "Irrepressible" is not an adjective I would apply to Mma Ramotswe--it is far too frivolous for her. On the plus side, McCall Smith does finally give the younger apprentice a name. But the thinness of the plot makes me think it may be time for McCall Smith to put this series on hiatus, at least until he has a stronger basis for a book.

(By the way, on page 48 it is "Mafeking" and on page 52 it is "Mafikeng", but this is *not* a typo--the first (on a tea tin) was the old British spelling, the second is the current South African spelling.)

Grade: C

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