I had to think long and hard about how to rate Tears of the Giraffe. I was leaning toward 2 or 3 out of 5 at first, to be honest. But then I started mentally listing the reasons why I was deducting stars, and I realized I'd be totally remiss to rate this book below 4 stars. You see, the only problems I could find with the story were personal problems, not actual factual plot problems. So long story short: Tears of the Giraffe gets 4 of 5 stars!
This is the second book in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books, and has more mystery than the first book. (Probably because the reader is already assumed to be familiar with the characters and setting, so the author skips right to the plot.) In this one, Mma Ramotswe solves mysteries pertaining to a wayward wife, a missing child, and a devious maid.
I do love Mma Ramotswe's forthrightness and confidence, both in herself and in her precious Botswana. She is easily one of the strongest female characters I've read. Unfortunately, this is also a detractor in a way; she kind of overpowers her fiancee in a few situations. But underneath it all she has a heart of gold, and always tries to help the people who come to her detective agency.
Another reason to love these books: the setting, in Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith lived in Botswana for a number of years, and you can feel his love for the country. Before reading these books, I honestly didn't have Botswana on my "want to go" list. I still can't say it's on my horizon (that's a looooooong plane ride), but I am intrigued. Sounds like a gorgeous country. And I love how Mma Ramotswe holds her country to such high moral standards!
The book lost a star, however, with the narration. I listened to this on CD, and the narrator had a lovely lilting accent.... too lilting. My mind would kind of wander away sometimes. And the pacing was definitely on the slow side. At the end of the book, I felt like there was no action. I had to reflect to remember that there were actually some mysteries solved. They were just so spread out that the story felt blase. I think I'll read the next book in the series in physical form and see if that fits me better. One undeniable benefit to the audiobook version of this series: pronunciation of the characters' names. I'm not familiar with pronunciation of Setswana names, and it helped to hear them out loud.
And finally, the disclosure of my bias: I'm not thinking I'm much of a fan of the "cozy" mystery genre. Not quite enough "bang" for my buck, I guess. But I'm very aware that is just a personal bias, and nothing against the book itself.
*I checked out my copy of Tears of the Giraffe from my local library.