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Alexander McCall Smith

Author of The No. 1 Ladiesʼ Detective Agency

282+ Works 110,359 Members 3,312 Reviews 260 Favorited

About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith was born on August 24, 1948 in Zimbabwe. He was a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, but he left in 2005 to focus on his writing. He has written over 60 books, including specialist academic titles including Forensic Aspects of Sleep and The Criminal Law show more of Botswana, short story collections including Portuguese Irregular Verbs, and children's books including The Perfect Hamburger. He is best known for the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. He also writes the Corduroy Mansions, Isabel Dalhousie and 44 Scotland Street series. He has received numerous awards, including The Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library Award and the 2004 United Kingdom's Author of the Year Award. His book, The Full Cupboard of Life, received the Saga Award for Wit in the United Kingdom. In 2007, he received a CBE for his services in literature. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Alexander McCall Smith, Hobart 25 August 2008


Works by Alexander McCall Smith

Tears of the Giraffe (2000) 6,949 copies
Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001) 6,003 copies
The Full Cupboard of Life (2003) 4,772 copies
Blue Shoes and Happiness (2006) 3,998 copies
The Sunday Philosophy Club (2004) 3,952 copies
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2007) 3,484 copies
44 Scotland Street (2005) 3,344 copies
The Miracle at Speedy Motors (2008) 2,959 copies
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (2005) 2,487 copies
The Double Comfort Safari Club (2010) 1,962 copies
Espresso Tales (2005) 1,905 copies
The Right Attitude to Rain (2006) 1,856 copies
Love Over Scotland (2006) 1,482 copies
The Careful Use of Compliments (2007) 1,470 copies
Portuguese Irregular Verbs (2003) 1,427 copies
The World According to Bertie (2007) 1,259 copies
The Comfort of Saturdays (2008) 1,130 copies
Corduroy Mansions (2009) 1,043 copies
The Lost Art of Gratitude (2009) 885 copies
Emma (2014) 819 copies
Precious and Grace (2016) 691 copies
The Girl Who Married a Lion (2004) 539 copies
The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom (2003) 528 copies
Trains and Lovers (2012) 525 copies
Bertie Plays the Blues (2011) 507 copies
My Italian Bulldozer (2016) 487 copies
Precious and the Monkeys (2010) 468 copies
A Conspiracy of Friends (2011) 423 copies
Sunshine on Scotland Street (2012) 408 copies
How to Raise an Elephant (2020) 349 copies
The Forever Girl (2014) 331 copies
The Revolving Door of Life (2015) 326 copies
Unusual Uses for Olive Oil (2011) 303 copies
Akimbo and the Lions (1992) 287 copies
A Distant View of Everything (2017) 285 copies
The Bertie Project (2017) 262 copies
A Time of Love and Tartan (2017) 244 copies
The Quiet Side of Passion (2018) 231 copies
Akimbo and the Elephants (1990) 225 copies
Chance Developments: Stories (2015) 205 copies
A Song of Comfortable Chairs (2022) 205 copies
The Perils of Morning Coffee (2011) 173 copies
The Talented Mr. Varg (2020) 169 copies
A Promise of Ankles (2020) 152 copies
Akimbo and the Crocodile Man (1993) 142 copies
Akimbo and the Snakes (2006) 140 copies
Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party (2014) 124 copies
The Man with the Silver Saab (2021) 107 copies
The Sweet Remnants of Summer (2022) 105 copies
Love in the Time of Bertie (2021) 104 copies
The Cleverness of Ladies (2012) 96 copies
One City (2005) — Contributor — 96 copies
Akimbo and the Baboons (2008) 88 copies
At the Reunion Buffet (2015) 76 copies
The Enigma of Garlic (2022) 73 copies
School Ship Tobermory (2015) 63 copies
Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine (2016) 57 copies
The Pavilion in the Clouds (2021) 47 copies
The Bubblegum Tree (1892) 43 copies
Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer (2016) 42 copies
The Spaghetti Tangle (1991) 41 copies
The Popcorn Pirates (1999) 36 copies
Teacher Trouble (1728) 35 copies
Calculator Annie (1992) 20 copies
The Doughnut Ring (2000) 19 copies
The Akimbo Adventures (2015) 18 copies
The Joke Machine (2006) 16 copies
The Banana Machine (1996) 15 copies
Cook For Me (2023) 14 copies
Explosive Adventures (2015) 13 copies
The Muscle Machine (1995) 13 copies
The ice-cream bicycle (1992) 12 copies
Varg in Love (2012) 11 copies
Boing Boing (2016) 10 copies
Paddy and the Ratcatcher (1994) 9 copies
Billy Rubbish (1996) 8 copies
The Private Life of Spies (2023) 7 copies
BP Portrait Award 2008 (2008) 5 copies
Good Dog Lion (2014) 5 copies
Suzy Magician (1990) 4 copies
Marzipan Max (1991) 3 copies
Emma [excerpts] (2014) 3 copies
The Watermelon Boys (1996) 2 copies
Travel Tales (2013) 2 copies
The tin dog (1990) 2 copies
Jeffrey's joke machine (1990) 2 copies
Scots criminal law (1997) 2 copies
Little Theatre (1982) 1 copy
Bertie Blues Caliyor (2013) 1 copy
Alix and the Tigers (1988) 1 copy
The Ceremony 1 copy
Film Boy (Read alouds) (1988) 1 copy
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (2009) — Author — 1 copy
rafe suze (2005) 1 copy
Monkey Boy (2000) 1 copy
Margaritanin Yüregi (2015) 1 copy
Still Life 1 copy

Associated Works

Pride and Prejudice (1813) — Foreword, some editions — 78,376 copies
Excellent Women (1952) — Introduction, some editions — 2,679 copies
The Tiger in the Smoke (1952) — Introduction, some editions — 1,373 copies
High Rising (1933) — Introduction, some editions — 673 copies
Wild Strawberries (1934) — Introduction, some editions — 520 copies
Symposium (1990) — Introduction, some editions — 478 copies
No Rest for the Dead: A Serial Novel (2011) — Contributor — 401 copies
Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm (1940) — Introduction, some editions — 296 copies
The Female Detective (1864) — Foreword, some editions — 172 copies
Mrs Tim Carries On (1941) — Introduction, some editions — 148 copies
Spring Magic (1941) — Introduction, some editions — 125 copies
Mrs. Tim Flies Home (1952) — Introduction, some editions — 123 copies
Mrs. Tim Gets a Job (1947) — Introduction, some editions — 120 copies
Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes (1879) — Introduction, some editions — 115 copies
Smouldering Fire (1935) — some editions — 101 copies
A New Omnibus of Crime (1771) — Contributor — 95 copies
Midsummer Nights (1702) — Contributor — 73 copies
OxCrimes (2014) — Contributor — 72 copies
Under a Monsoon Cloud (1986) — Preface, some editions — 70 copies
What You Wish For: A Book for Darfur (2011) — Contributor — 69 copies
Ox-Tales: Air (2009) — Contributor — 68 copies
Dead Man's Hand: Crime Fiction at the Poker Table (2007) — Contributor — 51 copies
Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People (2011) — Contributor — 45 copies
The Sunday Night Book Club (2006) — Contributor — 40 copies
The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 7 (2010) — Contributor — 38 copies
The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 8 (2011) — Contributor — 27 copies
The Best British Mysteries 4 (2006) — Contributor — 25 copies
Reader's Digest Select Editions 2010 v01 #307 (2010) — Author — 12 copies
The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 11 (2014) — Contributor — 12 copies
Scottish Printed Books, 1508–2008 (2008) — Foreword — 7 copies
Tales from African Dreamtime (2009) — Introduction — 4 copies


19th century (1,381) Africa (4,782) Alexander McCall Smith (647) audiobook (653) Austen (754) Botswana (4,293) British (1,203) British literature (1,071) classic (3,192) classics (3,094) crime (1,234) crime fiction (550) detective (1,999) ebook (1,004) Edinburgh (1,182) England (1,529) English (541) English literature (928) fiction (20,436) historical fiction (468) humor (2,307) Isabel Dalhousie (489) Jane Austen (1,043) Kindle (636) literature (1,829) love (537) mystery (8,765) No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1,052) novel (2,483) own (826) philosophy (463) Precious Ramotswe (522) read (2,105) Regency (503) romance (2,650) Scotland (1,963) series (1,560) to-read (4,240) unread (556) women (677)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
McCall Smith, R. Alexander
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia)
Places of residence
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
University of Edinburgh (LL.B|PhD)
Christian Brothers College, Bulawayo
professor (Medical Law)
The Really Terrible Orchestra
Royal Society of Edinburgh (Fellow ∙ 2001)
Awards and honors
Order of the British Empire (Commander, 2006)
British Book Award (Author of the Year, 2004)
Edinburgh University's School of Law, Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, 2007
Caroline Walsh (David Higham Associates)
Short biography
ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH has a double existence. He is a Professor of Medical Law, but also an author who has now written over fifty books on a wide range of subjects. These range from specialist titles such as 'Forensic Aspects of Sleep', (the only book on the subject) to 'The Criminal Law of Botswana' (also the only book on the subject) and from the widely translated 'The Perfect Hamburger' (a children's novel) to 'Portuguese Irregular Verbs' (a collection of stories about eccentric German professors). His collection of African stories, 'Children of Wax', received critical acclaim and has been the subject of an award-winning film.



#1 Ladies Detective Agency in All Books Africa (May 2009)


This is the twenty fourth in the simple but charming No. 1 Ladies Detective series. All the familiar characters are here.
And, yes, the talking shoes do make a cameo appearance!

Precious Ramotswe has two cases on her plate. The first is yet another pro bono for an employee of Mma Potokwani. It seems there is a “Cool Singles Evening Club” where married men are paying fees to be admitted and pass for single. Mma Ramotswe decides to put her apprentice, Charlie, in charge of the investigation. When Mma Makutsi gets involved, an unfortunate situation arises that the agency feels compelled to resolve. Those familiar with Gabarone will chuckle when the owner of the club is revealed.

While dining in a local restaurant, a visitor from Indiana, USA recognizes Mma Ramotswe and asks her help in finding the distant relatives of the man she called grandfather, who is long deceased. The search brings Precious to her beloved hometown and along the way readers learn of some of the history of British rule in Africa.

And there is also the problem of the birthday present dress that has been damaged!

Mma Ramotswe always manages to come up with clever and successful solutions to problems. Her gentle way and penchant for always finding the positive in a situation is balm for the soul.

Usually I binge this series, reading the book all in a day. For this installment, I decided to read a chapter at a time, taking a break in between and allowing time to savor Mma Ramotswe’s wisdom, profound in its simplicity.
This is another feel good addition to the series. It makes a nice afternoon or evening read while curled up with a pot of tea. Fans of McCall Smith’s gentle prose and perceptive musings will welcome this latest endeavor.

Thanks to #netgalley and @aaknopf @pantheonbooks for the ARC
… (more)
vkmarco | Dec 3, 2023 |
In my opinion, Alex. McC. Smith has not lost his touch with this long-running series. The lyrical physical descriptions, and the gentle observations about husband and wife relations and friendship and "extra low-grade" people and hard work and history - it's all there. Also, there's an interesting storyline about wartime history and an American woman who comes to Africa to search for relatives.
One of my favorite passages is this, spoken by that American woman in a conversation with Mia Ramotswe: My father was from Antigua, which is why, as you can see, I have a bit of Africa in me. He came to work in the US and that's when he met my mother. She was half French, half German, and so you see our background is a bit complicated. Sometimes I think of myself as being half American, half history — as many people are, don't you think? We all have history in our veins.… (more)
ReadMeAnother | 1 other review | Nov 29, 2023 |
From a Far and Lovely Country - McCall Smith
Audio performance by Lisette Lecat
3 stars

Mma Ramotswe wakes up on her birthday, but will anyone remember the day? Well, yes, of course they do. Eventually. And the day brings two new clients for The # 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The details don’t matter, and I’ve already forgotten most of them. But something important always stays with me after listening to one of these books. I feel like I’ve had a pleasant afternoon of tea and conversation with friends. Sometimes that’s just the thing I need.… (more)
msjudy | 1 other review | Nov 22, 2023 |
2023-11-19: This was lovely. I don't even know what to say about it beyond it being about decent people being decent. Humanity needs a LOT more examples of that but it turns out that modelling violence and antisocial behavior makes more money so that's mostly what we get. Thanks, capitalism.

This was lovely.
Awfki | 30 other reviews | Nov 19, 2023 |


Africa (3)


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Ian Rankin Contributor
James Robertson Author, Translator
Adjua Andoh Actor/Narrator
Iain McIntosh Illustrator, Cover artist
Adjoa Andoh Narrator
Peter Bailey Illustrator
J.K. Rowling Introduction
Ian Bilbey Illustrator
David Dean Illustrator
Élisabeth Kern Translator
Martine Skopan Translator
Lisette Lecat Narrator
Peder Carlsson Translator
Davina Porter Narrator
Claudio Carcano Translator
Simon Prebble Narrator
Stefania Bertola Translator
Toril Hanssen Translator
LeUyen Pham Illustrator
François Rosso Translator
Andrew Sachs Narrator, Reader
Saul Reichlin Narrator
David Rintoul Narrator, Reader
Nadine Mutz Übersetzer
Denyse Beaulieu Translator
Susan Lyons Narrator
Jocelyne Barsse Translator
Mma Ramotswe Introduction
Kelly Blair Cover designer
Carole Hanna Translator
Taina Helkamo Translator
Kate Hindley Illustrator
Nick Ward Illustrator


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