By Jennifer Reese
Updated April 18, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Precious Ramotswe’s despicable first husband resurfaces, her beloved white van disappears, and Mma Makutsi signs up for dancing lessons in the strikingly uneventful sixth volume of Alexander McCall Smith’s delightful series — In the Company of Cheerful Ladies. The characters seem to be in a holding pattern, and McCall Smith hasn’t devised any juicy new mysteries for the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to solve. Moreover, some of the motifs — like riffs on Precious”’traditional” build — are losing their charm. Nonetheless, like its predecessors, this sweet, sage novel will leave you feeling calmer and more centered by the time you’re through.