Category Archives: Alexander McCall Smith

Well, She Wrote Me a Letter*

Writing letters isn’t as common as it used to be. And that makes sense, when you think of how easy it is to email or, if it’s more urgent, text or call someone. And, yet, letters used to be the backbone of communication.

They’ve also served an interesting purpose in crime fiction: to sound an alarm, so to speak, and ask for help. There are plenty of examples of stories where someone writes a letter that gets the sleuth involved in a case. These are just a few instances; I know you’ll think of more.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, Violet Hunter writes a letter to Sherlock Holmes, asking his advice on whether she should take a new position as governess for a six-year-old boy. Jephro Rucastle, who has made the offer, has also made a few odd requests, and he unsettles Violet in a few ways. But the offer is a good one. When Holmes hears the whole story, he advises his new client not to take the job. She’s of a mind to take that advice, too. But then, Rucastle increases the offer to a number that she cannot resist. Holmes knows he can’t stop Violet from taking the job. But he does tell her that if she needs him, all she has to do is let him know. Before long, she does just that. Things have gone from odd to eerie, and even dangerous, and Violet asks for help. Holmes and Watson travel to the Rucastle home just in time to solve a deadly mystery.

Agatha Christie uses letters in more than one of her stories. In The Murder on the Links, for instance, Hercule Poirot gets a letter from Paul Renauld, a Canadian émigré to France. Renauld says that his life is in danger, and he begs Poirot to come and help. Usually, Poirot is not much for being summoned (right, fans of Dead Man’s Mirror?), but this letter gets his attention, and he and Captain Hastings go to France. By the time they get there, though, it’s too late: Renauld has been murdered. Poiorot and Hastings look into the matter and find out the truth about the case. And it turns out to be more complicated than it seems on the surface.

The real action in Dashiell Hammett’s short story, Fly Paper, begins when Major Waldo Hambleton hires the Continental Detective Agency to find his daughter, Sue, who’s cut off all contact with her family. She’s been reportedly mixed up with some very dangerous people, so Hambleton wants to be sure she’s all right. Then, he gets a letter from Sue, asking for money. That letter spurs him on, and he points the private investigator towards Sue’s last known address. It turns out the address belongs to a thug named Joseph ‘Holy Joe’ Wales, and he’s not the only thug Sue’s been associated with lately. Slowly, the detective (who is not named in the story) tracks down Sue’s actual address, but by the time he does, it’s too late: Sue is dead of what turns out to be arsenic poisoning. Now this missing person case has become a murder (or suicide) investigation.

In Catriona McPherson’s The Proper Treatment of Bloodstains, private investigator Dandelion ‘Dandy’ Gilver gets a letter from Walburga ‘Lollie’ Balfour that begins this way:
 

‘Dear Mrs. Gilver,
…My husband is going to kill me, and I would rather he didn’t.’

 

The letter goes on to say that Lollie fears for her life, and to ask Dandy to investigate surreptitiously by taking a position as a maid in the Balfour household.  Dandy takes the case and goes on a fake ‘interview’ to get the details from her new client. She soon moves in and starts investigating. But the next night, someone murders Lollie’s husband, Philip ‘Pip.’ Now, Dandy is involved in a murder investigation that turns out to be much more complicated than it seemed on the surface.

Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency introduces Botswana’s only female private investigator, Mma Precious Ramotswe. In one of her cases, she receives a letter from a teacher named Ernest Pakotati, whose eleven-year-old son has gone missing. The letter is heartbreaking, and Mma Ramotswe is moved by it. It’s not going to be an easy case, though. Among many other things, this disappearance could be related to local witchcraft, which is a politically very sensitive issue. It’s going to take tact and perseverance to find out what has happened to the boy. But Mr. Pakoti is desperate to get his son back if that’s possible, and Mma Ramotswe is determined to do just that.

And then there’s Deborah Johnson’s The Secret of Magic. In that novel, which takes place just after WW II, we meet idealistic young attorney Regina Robichard. She’s working for the NAACP in New York City, and hoping to make a difference there. Everything changes when the NAACP gets a letter from reclusive author M.P. Calhoun. As it happens, Calhoun wrote one of Robichard’s best-loved books from childhood, so she’s intrigued. In the letter, Calhoun alleges that a returning black veteran named Joe Howard Wilson was murdered. It’s clear from the letter that Calhoun wants the murder investigated, so Robichard decides to make the trip to Revere, Mississippi, where the alleged crime took place. As she starts to ask questions, Robichard learns that things are not always as they seem, and that she has much to learn.

There isn’t as much use of letters these days as there was. But they do offer the crime writer a lot of opportunities for getting the sleuth (and the reader) involved in a case. This is just a sampling. Your turn.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Wayne Carson’s The Letter.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Alexander McCall Smith, Arthur Conan Doyle, Catriona McPherson, Dashiell Hammett, Deborah Johnson

I Don’t Know if I Can Stop It*

You’d think that, if the police knew about a murder ahead of time, they’d be able to prevent it. But it’s not always that easy. For one thing, there’s not a lot the police can do about a crime until it’s been committed. For another, knowing there’s going to be a crime doesn’t always mean one knows exactly where or when it’s going to happen.

A quick look at crime fiction shows that knowing there’s going to be a crime – sometimes even when and where that crime will take place – doesn’t always prevent it. That plot device can push the limits of credibility, so it does have to be handled well. But when it is, it can be interesting, and can add tension to a story.

For instance, the real action in Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced begins when this announcement is placed in the local newspaper of Chipping Cleghorn:
 

‘A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks, at 6.30 pm. Friends accept this, the only intimation.’
 

It’s hard to get more obvious than that. Various members of the village community see this announcement, and find reasons to drop by Little Paddocks, which is owned by Letitia Blacklock. Sure enough, at 6:30, the lights go out and a man bursts through the door saying ‘Stick ‘em up!’  A shot is fired and the man, whose name is Rudi Scherz, is killed. Inspector Craddock investigates, and he suspects that this is not some sort of strange accident or weird joke. Miss Marple happens to be staying at the hotel where the victim works, and she and Craddock work together to find out who the killer is.  You’re absolutely right, fans of The ABC Murders.

Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal is the story of a plot to kill French president Charles de Gaulle. A far-right French group wants him assassinated, but their members are well-enough known to police that it would be difficult for one of them to get close enough to de Gaulle to commit the crime. So, they decide to hire a paid killer. They know almost nothing about the man they choose – only that he’s English and that he goes by the name of the Jackal. No-one even knows what he looks like, and this is seen as all to the good. When the police find out about this plot, Detective Claude Lebel is given the thankless task of trying to prevent a murder by someone whose name he doesn’t know, and appearance he’s never seen.

In one of the cases in Alexander McCall Smith’s Morality For Beautiful Girls, Mma Precious Ramotswe gets a visit from an important Government Man. He is convinced that his new sister-in-law is trying to kill his brother, and he wants Mma Ramotswe to prove it, and to stop her. Mma Ramotswe agrees to at least visit the family and see what she can find out. So, she goes to the Government Man’s family home, where she meets his brother, his sister-in-law, and other members of the household. Mma Ramotswe’s been warned that there could be a murder, but that doesn’t prevent an unpleasant poisoning attempt one afternoon. Everyone who eats lunch gets sick, including Mma Ramotswe. Now, she has to find out who’s responsible, and what the truth is about this family.

In Apostolos Doxiadis’ Three Little Pigs, we are introduced to the family of Benvenuto ‘Ben’ Franco. They travel from Italy to make their home in New York City during the first years of the 20th Century. Ben finds a job at a shoe repair shop, works hard, and in a few years, has his own shoe sales and repair shop. The family prospers, and on the surface, it seems to be a case of ‘The American Dream’ coming true. But one night, Ben gets into a bar fight and kills man. Unfortunately, the man happens to be Luigi Lupo, son of notorious gangster Tonio Lupo. The elder Lupo visits Ben in prison, and curses his three sons, saying that they will all die at the age of forty-two, the age of his son at his death. As the story goes on, we follow the lives of those three sons: Alessandro ‘Al,’ Niccola ‘Nick,’ and Leonardo ‘Leo.’ As the years go by, we also learn that those loyal to Tonio Lupo have not forgotten his curse and are taking steps to make sure it comes to pass. And we see how knowing about a murder in advance doesn’t always prevent it.

And then there’s Alan Carter’s Marlborough Man. Sergeant Nick Chester, his wife, Vanessa, and their son, Paulie, have been relocated from the UK to New Zealand, because Chester was involved in an undercover operation that went wrong. It’s a big change, but everyone’s getting used to their new home in the Marlborough area of New Zealand’ South Island. Then, six-year-old Jamie Riley, who’s been missing for nearly two weeks, is found dead. Chester and his assistant, Police Constable (PC) Latifa Rapata, begin the work of finding out who was responsible. The discover another, similar murder from five years earlier, and follow the leads to see whether the same person might have killed both victims. Then, another young boy goes missing. Chester, Rapata, and their team know that the boy will likely be killed if they don’t find the killer quickly. Even knowing what they know about the case may not be enough to prevent that murder.

Sometimes, a fictional detective may know there’s going to be a murder – may even know something about where and when that murder may take place. But that doesn’t mean the murder can necessarily be prevented. And that possibility can add tension and suspense to a story.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Neil Young’s Crime in the City.

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Alan Carter, Alexander McCall Smith, Apostolos Doxiadis, Frederick Forsyth

Get Up, Get Out, Get Well Again*

Not long ago, Moira, at Clothes in Books, brought up a very interesting question: what books would you recommend for someone who is convalescing? It isn’t an easy question. Books that are very bleak, or very long, or that explore deep philosophical issues, might not be the best choice. People who are convalescing may need to rest a lot, and they may not have the energy to ‘go dark,’ keep pace with a thriller, or really think deeply about issues. At the same time, just because people are recovering from an illness or surgery doesn’t mean they want ‘frothy’ books or badly written books.

There’s also the matter of personal taste, of course. Some series are more appealing than others, whether or not a person is in good health. So, making recommendations almost always carries a certain risk. That said, though, Moira asked a good question, and I decided to offer a few suggestions.

I’ll start by saying I couldn’t recommend just one book, or even just one author. I’ll also add that all of my suggestions are crime fiction (which should surprise exactly no-one). That said, here are a few of my ideas.

 

Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series

There are several things I like about this series for the person who’s convalescing. For one thing, none of the books is very long. So, someone who needs to rest, and may not have a lot of energy, can still enjoy the books. I also like the fact that the pace of these books is leisurely, but (at least for me) not plodding. It’s not the sort of series that wears a person out. And yet, the stories are engaging, and the characters interesting. There’s also the optimistic nature of the series. Even when things don’t work out, or there’s bad news, or… the stories have hope. Someone who’s convalescing isn’t likely to want to dwell on how bad things could get. Finally, the setting is exotic enough that it can draw the reader into a fascinating different place.

 

Cathy Ace’s Caitlin Morgan Series and W.I.S.E. Series

Ace writes traditional-style mysteries. One of her series features Caitlin ‘Cait’ Morgan, a criminologist and academician who teaches at the University of Vancouver. Her W.I.S.E. series features four women (one Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish, and one English) who set up an investigation agency. The stories mostly take place in the Welsh town of Anwen by Wye. Both of these series include whodunit-type plots that invite the reader to stay interested and keep turning and swiping pages. They both feature appealing (well, at least to me) settings and characters as well. Since they’re both traditional-style series, they don’t feature gore or a ‘high octane’ pace. Yet, they are not without substance. To me, they strike a fine balance between engaging and keeping the reader’s attention without being too much for a reader who is recovering from an illness or surgery.
 

Martin Walker’s Benoît ‘Bruno’ Courrèges Series

Martin Walker’s Benoît ‘Bruno’ Courrèges series strikes a similar balance. Bruno is Chief of Police in the small Périgord town of St. Denis. He’s also a member of the community, who’s woven into the town’s life. The mysteries he investigates are not light, ‘easy’ cases. But neither are they gory or bleak. And they invite the reader to engage in the story. They make their points without getting overly philosophical or ‘weighty,’ and the pace moves along without being tiring. While they’re not what you’d call very short books, they’re also not doorstop-length, either. A person who’s convalescing would, at least in my opinion, be able to enjoy the series without getting exhausted.

 

Peter Robinson’s Alan Banks Series

There often comes a point in convalescence when a person is almost, but not quite, ready to rejoin the world, so to speak. People in that situation may not be at the point of going back to work yet, but they are getting some energy back. And they may be ready for a series that sometimes gets a bit darker. That’s where Peter Robinson’s Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Alan Banks series may come in handy.  These novels take place mostly in and around the Yorkshire town of Eastvale. They begin, in Gallows View, as Banks and his family move from London to Eastvale and follow Banks’ personal and professional life. The novels aren’t really overly long, and they’re not what you’d call bleak or gory. The focus is often on the whydunit as well as the whodunit, and Robinson doesn’t go for ‘shock value’ as he writes. That said though, these books aren’t always very easy, light reading, and sometimes address more challenging subjects. For me, that makes them a solid choice for the convalescent who’s strong enough to start rejoining the human race, so to speak, but isn’t quite finished resting and taking extra care.

 

Gail Bowen’s Joanne Kilbourne Shreve Series

And I wouldn’t want to do a post like this without mentioning Gail Bowen’s Joanne Kilbourn Shreve series. Joanne is a political scientist and (later, retired) academician. Based mostly in Regina, the series follows Joanne’s life as she teaches, does research, raises her family and, later, becomes a proud grandmother. The investigations she’s drawn into are sometimes somewhat dark. But Bowen weaves hope, family bonds, and sometimes wit through the novels as well. They are also interesting character studies, as well as solid portraits of life in modern Canada. They aren’t overly philosophical, and they’re not gory or explicit, either. I recommend them in general to begin with, but I think they’re also a fine choice for someone who’s convalescing.

And there you have it.  A few ideas of mine for series that might be of interest to those who are convalescing. Your mileage, as the saying goes, may vary. Thanks, Moira, for inviting me to think about this. Folks, do check out Moira’s excellent blog. It’s a treasure trove of reviews and discussions about fashion and culture in books, and what it all says about us.

What are your ideas, folks? What would you recommend?

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Duke Ellington’s Merry Mending.

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Filed under Alexander McCall Smith, Cathy Ace, Gail Bowen, Martin Walker, Peter Robinson

Find Out the Truth*

As I’ve often mentioned on this blog, most criminals aren’t eager to be caught. And there’s not always enough evidence to bring charges against someone. So, at least in crime fiction, the sleuth sometimes has to use some creativity to get the criminal to confess.

There are limits to what fictional police sleuths can do. For instance, entrapment – enticing someone to commit a crime she or he would not otherwise commit – is not allowed. And there’s a very fine line between a ‘sting’ operation (which is permissible) and entrapment. And even if the sleuth is not a cop, there’s still the credibility factor. Still, sleuths can be innovative, and sometimes have to be.

In Ellery Queen’s The Roman Hat mystery, for instance, Inspector Richard Queen investigates the poisoning death of an attorney, Monte Field, who was also a blackmailer. He was killed in a theatre, so it’s hard a first to narrow down the list of people who could have committed the crime. And, even when the Queens do work out who was responsible, they don’t have the sort of evidence needed to pursue the case. So, they devise a ruse that, today, might be considered entrapment. They entice the killer into attempting another murder in the same way, using the same poison.

Fans of Agatha Christie will know that, more than once, her sleuths find creative ways to catch killers, even without a lot of evidence. For instance, in The Moving Finger, Miss Marple helps to solve the mystery of who’s been writing a series of vicious anonymous letters to the residents of the small town of Lymstock. Several of the villagers take those letters very seriously; there’s even a suicide (or was it a suicide?) associated with one of them. Then, there’s an obvious murder. Miss Marple works out who the killer is, but there’s not a lot of proof. So, she sets up what you might call a trap, and ‘baits’ it with another character, to flush the killer out. Fans of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Martin Beck series will know that Beck and his team use a rather similar sort of ‘trap’ in Roseanna. They know who the killer of twenty-seven-year-old Roseanna McGraw is, but they don’t have the proof they need. So, they lure the killer into trying for another victim. And it works.

Lawrence Sanders’ The Anderson Tapes introduces readers to John ‘Duke’ Anderson. He’s recently been released from prison, and has a legitimate job working in a print factory. But, then, he gets a chance to visit an exclusive Manhattan apartment building. Impressed by the luxury he sees, Anderson can’t resist the opportunity to set up a heist – and not just of one apartment, either. His scheme is to rob the whole building. For that, he’s going to need some help. So, he contacts several people he knows to get supplies, a getaway truck, and so on. What he doesn’t know is that the FBI and various other agencies have been interested in several of Anderson’s contacts for some time. And they know full well that those criminals are not going to be easy to catch. In order to get the proof they need, these agencies have gotten clearance for wiretapping and other surveillance. They’re hoping this will get the evidence they need to convince the people they’ve targeted. So, much of what Anderson says to these people is recorded. The question is: will they learn of Anderson’s scheme before he and his team have the chance to pull it off?

In Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Mma Precious Ramotswe gets a new client, Happy Bapetse. Like other members of her culture, Happy has been taught that caring for elderly relatives, especially parents, is her responsibility. So, when a man shows up at her home claiming to be her father, Happy welcomes him and starts to take care of him. But she slowly begins to suspect that the man is not her father at all, but someone who wants to take advantage of the fact that she’s done well in life. So, she goes to Mma Ramotswe to get some help. Mma Ramotswe soon sees that she isn’t going to get this man to admit his scam. So, she sets up a ruse that forces his hand, as the saying goes. And it works.

And then there’s Belinda Bauer’s Blacklands. In it, twelve-year-old Steven Lamb takes a very risky decision. His family has been devastated for a long time by the loss of his uncle, Billy Peters, who went missing nineteen years earlier. Steven wants his family to heal, and he believes that finding his uncle’s body, assuming he’s dead, will at least allow his family to start that process. It was always assumed that a man named Arnold Avery, who’s currently in prison for another child murder, killed Billy. So, Steven decides to write to Avery, and try to find out from him whether he killed Uncle Billy, and if so, where the body is buried. It’s a very daring ploy, since Avery has never admitted to that murder. And it begins a dangerous game of ‘cat and mouse’ between the two. And the stakes get higher as time goes on.

It can be very risky to try to get a criminal to admit wrongdoing, especially if it’s a serious crime like murder. But, few criminals are eager to tell what they’ve done. So, sometimes, a fictional sleuth has to come up with a different approach to getting the truth.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Love and Money’s Axis of Love.  

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Alexander McCall Smith, Belinda Bauer, Ellery Queen, Lawrence Sanders

Can’t You Find Another Way*

Paul Levine’s Steve Solomon is a Coconut Grove, Florida lawyer who lives by a set of what he calls ‘Solomon’s Laws.’ And the first one is,
 

When the law doesn’t work…work the law.
 

That doesn’t being illegal. Any credible lawyer knows that breaking the law can mean disbarment at the very least. Rather, it means using the law to do some good, rather than hiding blindly behind one or another law. Solomon does just that on a regular basis. He’s gotten himself in trouble more than once by seeing the law as a living, breathing entity, rather than something immutable. He’s not at all conventional, and he can be brash and even a little conceited. But he has an interesting, compassionate view about what the law is supposed to do. Throughout the series, we see how Solomon looks at different situations, and tries to make the law work for them, rather than fit them into what the law, strictly speaking, says.

He’s not the only crime-fictional protagonist who does this. And it’s interesting to see how sleuths are at the same time both respectful of what law or policy says (i.e. not stereotypical mavericks) and flexible about it all. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot is one of those characters. On the one hand, as he says himself, he does not approve of murder. And fans know that he has no compunction about having a murderer arrested. At the same time, he is aware of the humanity, if that’s the way to say it, involved in the cases he investigates. And, in more than one story (no titles – I don’t want to give away spoilers), he allows for the right thing to be done, rather than for the strictest interpretation of the law.

There’s an interesting case of ‘working the law’ in Martin Clark’s The Legal Limit. In that novel, we are introduced to Mason Hunt, who is the commonwealth prosecutor for Patrick County, Virginia. He’s had the personal blow of being widowed, but he’s doing well, and he has a close bond with his daughter, Grace. Then, the past comes back to haunt him. Years earlier, Hunt and his brother, Gates, were involved in an argument with Gates’ romantic rival, Wayne Thompson. Later that night, the Hunt brothers encountered Thompson again, the argument was rekindled, and before anyone really knew it, Gates shot Thompson. Out of a sense of filial loyalty, Mason helped his brother get rid of the evidence of the murder, and both men got on with their lives. Now, Gates is in prison on a cocaine trafficking charge, and he wants his brother to get him out. Mason refuses, for a lot of good reasons, and Gates threatens to implicate him in the still-unsolved Thompson murder. Mason calls his brother’s bluff, and soon, he’s indicted on a murder charge. Now, Mason and Assistant Prosecutor Custis Norman will have to think of an approach to keeping Gates in prison and clearing Mason’s name. It won’t be easy, because Mason has, after all, illegally hidden evidence. But the two hit on a strategy that just might work…

Gianrico Carofiglio’s Guido Guerrieri finds ways to work the law in Involuntary Witness. In that novel, Guerrieri, who lives and works in Bari, is asked to take on a very difficult legal case. It seems that a Senegalese immigrant named Abdou Thiam has been arrested for abducting and murdering nine-year-old Francesco Rubino. There’s plenty of evidence against him, too. But his partner, Abajaje Deheva, says that he’s not guilty. And she hires Guerrieri to defend Thiam. At first, Thiam doesn’t think he has much chance, especially being a Senegalese in an Italian court. But Guerrieri soon comes to believe that his client is innocent. Now, he’s going to have to come up with a strategy that works the law so that he can clear Thiam’s name.

So does attorney Casper Leinen in Ferdinand von Schirach’s The Collini Case/Der Fall Collini. In that novel, we are introduced to Fabrizio Collini, an Italian immigrant to Germany. For years, he’s lived and worked quietly in Böblingen. Then, unexpectedly, he travels to Berlin’s Hotel Adlon, where he goes to one of the suites and shoots Jean-Baptiste Meyer. He’s taken immediately into custody, where he does nothing to defend himself. German law requires that he be represented by counsel; and, as it happens, Leinen is on standby duty for legal aid when Collini is arrested. So, he goes to meet with his new client. Soon enough, he finds out that this is going to be a very difficult case. Collini admits right away that he killed Meyer but doesn’t say why. The examining magistrate fully expects Leinen to simply go through the motions to ensure that his client is treated fairly. And Collini is willing to take whatever punishment he gets from the German court system. Leinen, though, wants to really defend his client. And he’s not afraid to admit he wants to win in court. So, he puts all of his effort into this case. And he finds that there’s more to this murder than it seems on the surface. He’s going to have to work the law if he’s going to free his client.

And it’s not just attorneys who learn the value of occasionally working the law. Alexander McCall Smith’s Mma Precious Ramotswe has learned it, too. For instance, in The Kalahari Typing School For Men, she’s been hired by a client who wants to make amends with a former landlord from whom he stole a radio. Mma Ramotswe agrees to try to find the family. The landlord has died, but his widow is still alive. So, Mma Ramotswe goes to the government pension office. Her thought is to try to get the widow’s address, so she can ask the woman if she’ll meet with Mma Ramotswe’s client. Unfortunately, the office clerk is smug and self-important, and refuses to give out any information. He says the rules forbid giving out any information. Here’s what happens next:
 

‘‘But that is not the rule,’ said Mma. Ramotswe. ‘…The rule says that you must not give the name of a pensioner. It says nothing about the address.’
The clerk shook his head. ‘I do not think you can be right, Mma. I am the one who knows the rules. You are the public.’
‘Yes, Rra. I am sure that you are very good when it comes to rules…But sometimes, when one has to know so many rules, one can get them mixed up. You are thinking of Rule 25. This rule is really Rule 24(b), subsection (i)…The rule that deals with addresses is Rule 18, which has now been cancelled.’’ 
 

In this case, Mma  Ramotswe uses the clerk’s own rules against him for what she sees as the greater good.

And that’s the thing about working the law. It doesn’t mean breaking the law. Rather, it means looking at the law as part of a larger picture, so that the most good is done.

 
 
 

*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Randy Darnell Jackson and Homer Banks’ Can’t You Find Another Way (of Doing It).

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Filed under Agatha Christie, Alexander McCall Smith, Ferdinand von Schirach, Gianrico Carofiglio, Paul Levine