Picks and Pans Review: The Full Cupboard of Life

updated 05/10/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/10/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Alexander McCall Smith

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Precious Ramotswe, the heroine of this and four other cozy novels in the popular "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, is a "traditionally built" Botswana woman with a folksy way of solving people's problems over bottomless cups of African red bush tea. This time out Precious counsels a wealthy hair-salon owner about whom she should marry while fretting over her own fiancé's unwillingness to set a wedding date.

Fans will put their feet up and welcome the arrival of the new book, which is full of authentic African touches. New readers can start here, since all back ground information is repeated, and enjoy a plot even more inventive than the earlier ones. Try some red bush tea too. It's caffeine-free, slightly sweet and very soothing--just like the books.

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