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Cheaper by the Dozen
Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The Miracle at Speedy Motors - Alexander McCall Smith Another winner in the summer reading series, this book entranced me with its incredibly evocative descriptions of southern Africa.

The main character, Precious Ramotswe, opens a detective agency with her inheritance. This first book in the series gives some background on her character and details her first few cases.

I really liked this book; the characters are lively and drawn with such fascinating detail. The landscape is also described so clearly that it almost becomes a character in the book as well. In fact, that is one of the most engaging parts of this book. The role that Africa (and specifically Botswana) plays in this book is both intriguing and beautiful. The author makes the physical setting of the book into a major player in the mysteries that Mma Ramotswe solves.

The main character, too, is complex and fascinating. She's self-assured, but not without her moments of self-doubt.

I'm fascinated with the ability of this author to evoke the sights, sounds, and people of Botswana in just a few words. I was also impressed that this white, male author has so much creative vision that he could draw the black, female main character with such insight and strength. She's not perfect, but she's fascinating. And his descriptions of southern Africa's landscape make me want to visit someday.I look forward to reading the rest of this series.