Precious on HBO

Thrilling news arrived Monday. My favorite detective is going to be on television. Months ago I mentioned that Alexander McCall Smith was among the top mystery writers. See RIP, Tony Hillerman.

I have no memory of when I first discovered his wonderful series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but I look forward to each new volume. His heroine is Precious Ramotswe, “the only lady private detective in Botswana,” who is proud of her verdant, peaceful and prosperous country. Now she’s going to have her own series on HBO, personified by the gorgeous Jill Scott.

I hope the series does justice to Mma Ramotswe’s distinctive voice. She calls herself “traditionally built,” meaning she does not strive for the twig-thin look. In fact the upcoming mystery is titled Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. Besides the search for emaciation, Mma Ramotswe (no one calls her Precious) disapproves of a great many other modern attitudes, attitudes that cause people to rush around so they don’t have time to sip a cup of bush tea and contemplate the beautiful countryside.

As the series progresses, Mma Ramotswe begins a very proper engagement to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni who owns a car repair shop called Speedy Motors. The romance has a few twists and turns, beginning when Mr. Matekoni presents her with two small children whom he has rescued from an orphanage.

As I was enjoying the third book in the series, Morality for Beautiful Girls, in which Mma Ramotswe investigates the contestants in the “Beauty and Integrity Contest,” along came Isabel Dalhousie.

Isabel is a highly educated middle-aged woman of independent means. She lives in Edinburgh where she edits a journal called The Review of Applied Ethics. In her spare time, she applies philosophical theory to solving such mysteries as why a man fell to his death from the balcony of a concert hall.

While Mma Ramotswe revels in the vast stretches of open plain, Isabel’s world is circumscribed by a small “everyone knows everyone” circle in the streets and closes of an ancient city. And the novels take much more work than the average detective story, what with all that philosophy. Isabel’s best quality, though, is that she toys with the idea of having an affair with a man who is 15 years younger than she is. Go ahead, Isabel!

AMS has two other series that I haven’t read. 44 Scotland Street, with four books, concerns the residents of a boarding house in Edinburgh; Portuguese Irregular Verbs, with three books, deals with a professor of philology who seems determined to get himself into various scrapes. More great stuff to look forward to after I finish the next “mandatory” on my book list.

A lawyer by training, AMS also makes contributions to the field of music by playing in the Really Terrible Orchestra, which he co-founded with his wife. “The name was carefully chosen: what it said was what you would get.” This quote comes from a marvelous piece in The Telegraph. Sad to say, the audio seems to be missing, but you can hear it on his site. No wonder they receive standing ovations after plying their audiences with large quantities of wine.

News flash: the RTO will be appearing in New York. On April 1. How appropriate.

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One Response to “Precious on HBO”

  1. My Kind of ‘What I Wore’ « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] a few exceptions). Jill Scott will always have a special place in my heart. (“Precious on HBO”) Her wardrobe in “From Retro Glamour to the Librarian Look” is equally endearing and […]

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