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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by…
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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
9,758288296 (3.72)2 / 598
  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. 20
    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)
  4. 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!
  5. 10
    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (stevedore)
    stevedore: Similar light-hearted quirky characters and lack of dramatic tension.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 00
    Frangipani by Célestine Vaite (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: Culturally illuminating with similar feelgood vibe
  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 (276)  Swedish (5)  Spanish (3)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (288)
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
What a delightful blending of short mystery stories with heartfelt warmth and compassion against the backdrop of Botswana. The cases that are brought to Mma Ramotswe's attention, and the events of her own everyday life, make for wonderful reading. Insightful and charming, I love how McCall has seamlessly woven the political and sociological issues of Botswana and South Africa into a mystery series, presenting a 'slice of life' reading experience, similar to Jan Karon's The Mitford Years series.

Overall, a delightful read and I am very happy I book the first nine books in the series earlier this year without even having a clue whether I would enjoy the stories. A series I will be continuing to read! ( )
  lkernagh | Jul 18, 2014 |
I'd heard great things about this series so when I saw the first book in a charity shop I snapped it up. I wasn't disappointed. I love the writing style which perfectly captures the way many of my African friends speak. I love the references to Botswana history and culture, although I must look a few things up. I also love the way the story is told with lots of smaller cases interspersed that help build up a full picture of the characters. It was so good I read nearly 4 hours solid last night to finish it! Definitely a series I'll be continuing. ( )
1 vote eclecticdodo | Jul 18, 2014 |
http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/4915718/

Read during Winter 2007

Not really a mystery but much more of a charming and light slice of life in Botswana, about which I know absolutely nothing. I'm not sure what inspires the slavish devotion to the series and I'm not sure I would read more in the series but it was very enjoyable to read, even if the mysteries where not tough to crack.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
Pleasant enough as a travel read, but not the most compelling narrative ("disjointed" was my wife's word). I liked Mma Ramotswe well enough, but I found the actual cases to be anticlimatic and mostly mundane, the point of view changes without warning or reason (also as my wife pointed out) and there are quite a few revelations that aren't motivated by anything but the author's desire to explain everything up front. It might have been better if, as with Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri series, the story had picked up with the detective agency fully established so that the cases being discussed would have been more complex and more inherently interesting; just because you have to introduce a series doesn't mean the mysteries have to be elementary too. ( )
  bostonian71 | Jun 19, 2014 |
Mma Precious Ramotswe is the type of person who just wants to help people. When her father dies, she uses the money from the sale of his cattle to pursue a lifelong dream. With no training, Mma Ramotswe opens a detective agency. She wastes no time getting started by diving into the drama of the people of Botswana. As the first and only lady detective in Botswana, Mma Ramotswe accepts all the cases that come her way. Along the way she must find a missing husband, expose a con artist, and follow a troublemaking daughter. Mma Ramotswe is clever and lucky as one by one she works her way through the cases in her own quirky way. Follow Mma Ramotswe on her journey as she learns her trade. Indeed the mystery of Mma Ramotswe herself is revealed as she solves these mysteries.

The Bottom Line: This is an entertaining, engaging, and quick read. It makes you appreciate the simple things in life like reading a good cozy. I enjoyed the structure of this book in which each case is like a short story. The mystery stories are then woven together by the search for a missing boy who may have been kidnapped by a witch doctor. The story of Mma Ramotswe herself is revealed layer by layer as she solves the mysteries. I also enjoyed Mma Ramotswe’s romance with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. The characters are clever, original, and fun. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of cozy mysteries. The setting in Botswana is a nice change of pace.

This review also appears at the Mini Book Bytes Book Review Blog. ( )
1 vote aya.herron | Jun 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 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
First words
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:10 -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 13 descriptions

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