Nobody would ever call Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe mysteries dark. But the popular and essentially sweet series, which kicked off with “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” in 1998, has always dealt with harsh reality. “The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon” continues down this path, and if this book, the 14th in the series, dwells a bit more on life’s losses than those that came before it, that doesn’t negate its gentle nature.
Like its predecessors, this mystery, set in Botswana, ostensibly focuses on new cases for detective Ramotswe and her two-person agency to solve. This time out, these include a question about the inheritance of a farm and the defamation of the beauty salon of the title. In reality, as regular readers will expect, the book revolves more around the everyday personal issues of the invariably decent central characters than it does around either of these investigations.