This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with problems in their lives." Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency received two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the International Books of the Year and the Millennium by the Times Literary Supplement.
Showing 1-9 of the 9 most recent reviews
1 . Bored
Posted June 03, 2010 by Darcia , New Port RicheyWith all the hype surrounding this book, I expected to love it. I didn't. The story begins with a slow narrative about Africa, which is where Mma Ramotswa, the main character lives. We then get a very short anecdote about a case Ramotsaw handles through her detective agency. From there, we get many pages of background information from her father's life, in her father's voice - and her father is already dead. By the time the story got back around to the detective agency, I had forgotten the book was supposed to be about a a female detective. I found the book slow and lacking in focus. Honestly, 2 stars is being generous for me.
2 . I'm hooked
Posted April 24, 2010 by Colleen , san angelo tx1st book I have read from Alexander McCall Smith and I am now looking for book # 2. I love the stories, no murders or sex and I couldn't put it down. I feel like I have been in Africa.
3 . Good, easy read
Posted March 28, 2010 by Jean , Apple Valley, CAThis was my first book by Alexander McCall Smith. I will be reading more of the series. Interesting read and good philosophy.
4 . A very clever book loaded with poked fun at our lives.
Posted March 22, 2010 by golfnut , Bellingham, Wash.Just a barrel of fun to read!
5 . I loved this book!
Posted March 18, 2010 by shannon , seattleI loved this book!
6 . A very different mystery
Posted March 18, 2010 by kj , smiths station, alNot at all what you would usually expect in the mystery and thriller category...no dead bodies, no violence, no single great crime wrapped up at the end with a flourish. Instead, this is a quiet little book, more like a series of vignettes,that builds characters and interweaves stories in surprising ways. And on top of that it gives a glimpse into a very different place and way of living and thinking. I enjoyed it.
7 . Good!
Posted March 16, 2010 by Natalya , BrooklynInteresting to read.
8 . Entertaining...
Posted March 14, 2010 by Abby , Vancouver, BCI loved this book...from the endearing Mma Romotswe... to her devotion of the ever evolving Africa .. to the lives she touches with her detective agency. The book is smartly written and very entertaining....enough for me to search out Smith's other books on the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
9 . Really interesting slice of life mystery
Posted November 17, 2008 by mickeymammoth , Boulder, COI really liked this book. It was full of small mysteries, but more importantly, full of insightful characterizations.
July 23, 2005
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Excerpt from The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: #1) by Alexander McCall Smith
MMA RAMOTSWE had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe -- the only lady private detective in Botswana -- brewed redbush tea. And three mugs -- one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course.
But there was also the view, which again could appear on no inventory. How could any such list describe what one saw when one looked out from Mma Ramotswe's door To the front, an acacia tree, the thorn tree which dots the wide edges of the Kalahari; the great white thorns, a warning; the olive-grey leaves, by contrast, so delicate. In its branches, in the late afternoon, or in the cool of the early morning, one might see a Go-Away Bird, or hear it, rather. And beyond the acacia, over the dusty road, the roofs of the town under a cover of trees and scrub bush; on the horizon, in a blue shimmer of heat, the hills, like improbable, overgrown termite mounds.
Everybody called her Mma Ramotswe, although if people had wanted to be formal, they would have addressed her as Mme Mma Ramotswe. This is the right thing for a person of stature, but which she had never used of herself. So it was always Mma Ramotswe, rather than Precious Ramotswe, a name which very few people employed.
She was a good detective, and a good woman. A good woman in a good country, one might say. She loved her country, Botswana, which is a place of peace, and she loved Africa, for all its trials. I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, said Mma Ramotswe. I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place. They are my people, my brothers and sisters. It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries in their lives. That is what I am called to do.
In idle moments, when there were no pressing matters to be dealt with, and when everybody seemed to be sleepy from the heat, she would sit under her acacia tree. It was a dusty place to sit, and the chickens would occasionally come and peck about her feet, but it was a place which seemed to encourage thought. It was here that Mma Ramotswe would contemplate some of the issues which, in everyday life, may so easily be pushed to one side.
Everything, thought Mma Ramotswe, has been something before. Here I am, the only lady private detective in the whole of Botswana, sitting in front of my detective agency. But only a few years ago there was no detective agency, and before that, before there were even any buildings here, there were just the acacia trees, and the riverbed in the distance, and the Kalahari over there, so close.