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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by…

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1998)

by Alexander McCall Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,212296281 (3.72)2 / 669
  1. 40
    The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill (heidialice)
  2. 31
    Still Life by Louise Penny (bell7)
    bell7: Readers who enjoy Mma Ramotswe's understanding of people may also appreciate Inspector Gamache's methods and insistence that listening to and understanding people solve cases.
  3. 10
    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (stevedore)
    stevedore: Similar light-hearted quirky characters and lack of dramatic tension.
  4. 10
    Frangipani by Célestine Hitiura Vaite (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Culturally illuminating with similar feelgood vibe
  5. 10
    Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey (-Eva-)
    -Eva-: It's a little more gruesome than McCall Smith's books, but it's a true pageturner!
  6. 10
    Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin (elbakerone)
    elbakerone: Although they take place in different African countries (Smith's Botswana and Parkin's Rwanda), both books have a similar flavor with the leading ladies helping out their neighbors. Throughout their respective stories, each book reveals a bit about the culture and daily life of the country where it takes place.… (more)
  7. 10
    A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson (bookwoman247)
    bookwoman247: Both books have a similar, lighthearted tone, and of course, they have the African setting in common.
  8. 00
    The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: Both books are cory mysteries, with different plotlines, in an exotic environment. Nice, comfortable reads
  9. 00
    The Cliff House Strangler by Shirley Tallman (missmaddie)
    missmaddie: Mystery novels filled with woman power!
  10. 00
    Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes (sanddancer)
  11. 01
    Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes by Betsy Woodman (amyblue)
    amyblue: Although Jana Bibi is set in India and No. 1 Ladies detective Agency is set in Botswana, both have a great respect for the local culture but are told from a more western perspective, and both have a cast of quirky characters.

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English (283)  Swedish (5)  Spanish (3)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (295)
Showing 1-5 of 283 (next | show all)
Ramotswe is one interesting character. Tough, caring, intelligent and humorous. While this story is not what I expected, I still overall enjoyed it. The cultural change was an interesting viewpoint. And there is a distinct voice to this story.

However, it was not what I was expecting. I wanted mystery. And while there are mysteries to be solved, the book itself is not. We don't get to see the clue piecing and the questioning I desire in a mystery. This is more about what and how she does what she does.

So while it was nicely written, it just was not my thing solving all these mini-cases that had no real bearing on the story. Also, I found it a bit slow paced for my taste. ( )
  jljaina | Oct 7, 2015 |
Easy to read, but very enjoyable. Makes Africa seem not so mysterious. ( )
1 vote Big_Blue | Sep 29, 2015 |
I love this series. Easy to read on an e-reader.
  Big_Blue | Sep 29, 2015 |
I may be the last person on Earth to start reading this series, but in case I'm not: It's about a woman in Botswana who sets up shop as a private detective, despite the fact that nobody in Botswana expects a woman to be a private detective. Or expects a private detective at all, really.

I went into this assuming it was going to be a straightforward whodunnit kind of detective story, albeit one with an unusual setting. It's not. It's more about the main character, Precious Ramotswe, her life, and the various minor, quirky little cases she investigates. (There's also one slightly more serious case, but that doesn't dominate the novel.) I think every time I've seen this book mentioned, I've heard it described as "charming," and, much as I hate to be unoriginal, I have to echo that. It is charming. And Precious Ramotswe is a marvelous character, one who immediately feels like an old friend. I'll definitely be continuing on with this series. ( )
  bragan | Jul 13, 2015 |
The author's style of writing is such that I found it a struggle to put down the book. It begins with the main protagonist, Precious Ramotswe (Mma Ramotswe), as she evolves from a happy childhood into a doomed marriage before opening her own detective agency. As the only one of its kind in Botswana that is owned and operated by a woman, it reflects the progression of women to roles previously only held by men. Its setting, Botswana, is impressed upon the reader through descriptions of the landscape and lifestyle of those who inhabit it, plus the nature and traditions of both male and female Motswana (citizens of Botswana), and their incredible love of, and pride for, their country. The pull that ties people to Botswana is emphasized via Mma Ramotswe's reasons for never wanting to live anywhere else and her American client's daily yearning for Botswana after returning to the States after a two-year posting in Botswana. Mma Ramotse's methods of solving cases defy conventional methods, which further reflects the uniqueness of the Motswana. To compare this tale with detective stories set outside Botswana would, therefore, be doing it an injustice since the Motswana and the land they inhabit are unique. ( )
1 vote Hermee | Jun 15, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 283 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (38 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, Alexander McCallprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carlsson, PederTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McIntosh, IainIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is for

Anne Gordon-Gillies

in Scotland

and for

Joe and Mimi McKnight

in Dallas, Texas
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Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
From the back:

Meet Precious Ramotswe, the "miss Marple of Botswana" (the new york times book review) - a heroine who is endearing, engaging, and simply irresistible. with persistent observations, gentle intuition, and a keen desire to help people with problems do their lives, she solves mysteries great and small for friends and strangers alike.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 034911675X, Paperback)

Penzler Pick, July 2001: Working in a mystery tradition that will cause genre aficionados to think of such classic sleuths as Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner or Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee, Alexander McCall Smith creates an African detective, Precious Ramotswe, who's their full-fledged heir.

It's the detective as folk hero, solving crimes through an innate, self-possessed wisdom that, combined with an understanding of human nature, invariably penetrates into the heart of a puzzle. If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in Botswana--and decided to go against any conventional notion of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father's cattle to set up a Ladies' Detective Agency--then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country's first female detective. Once the clients start showing up on her doorstep, Precious enjoys a pleasingly successful series of cases.

But the edge of the Kalahari is not St. Mary Mead, and the sign Precious orders, painted in brilliant colors, is anything but discreet. Pointing in the direction of the small building she had purchased to house her new business, it reads "THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY. FOR ALL CONFIDENTIAL MATTERS AND ENQUIRIES. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED FOR ALL PARTIES. UNDER PERSONAL MANAGEMENT."

The solutions she comes up with, whether in the case of the clinic doctor with two quite different personalities (depending on the day of the week), or the man who had joined a Christian sect and seemingly vanished, or the kidnapped boy whose bones may or may not be those in a witch doctor's magic kit, are all sensible, logical, and satisfying. Smith's gently ironic tone is full of good humor towards his lively, intelligent heroine and towards her fellow Africans, who live their lives with dignity and with cautious acceptance of the confusions to which the world submits them. Precious Ramotswe is a remarkable creation, and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency well deserves the praise it received from London's Times Literary Supplement. I look forward with great eagerness to the upcoming books featuring the memorable Miss Ramotswe, Tears of the Giraffe and Morality for Beautiful Girls, soon to be available in the U.S. --Otto Penzler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:45 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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.… (more)

» see all 14 descriptions

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Average: (3.72)
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