"The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith. New York, Anchor Books, 2002.
This collection of episodes from the caseload of fictional private detective Precious Ramotswe is uncanny in its unmasking of human foibles of the sorts that span generations and cultures. The author was born in Botswana, where his stories are set, and he has perfectly captured the cadence, the pace, and the imagery of life in 20th century Africa.
Mma Ramotswe has used her inheritance to buy a storefront and set up a detective agency so she can "help people with the problems in their lives." The problems range from a lost dog to a kidnapped child, from a defiant daughter to embezzlement to medical malpractice. Each case is solved by Precious Ramotswe using guidelines from "'The Principles of Private Investigation' by Clovis Andersen," which she uses as her manual. The solutions are witty and almost Solomon-like in their carriage of justice.