The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Book cover of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Book description

Precious Ramotswe, a cheerful woman of traditional build, is the founder of Botswana's first and only ladies' detective agency. Here is a gentle interpretation of the detective role: solving her cases through her innate wisdom and understanding of human nature, she 'helps people with problems in their lives'. With a…

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Why read it?

8 authors picked The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Some might consider this cheating, as Mma Ramotswe’s age is not obvious as the books progress, but after 23 adventures, I will count her tending toward middle if not old age.

If she is not, the gentle mannerisms and thoughtful concerns of her and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, definitely put the books into this category of wise and poignant characters.

There may still be a mystery to each book, but these stories offer marriage advice, friendship advice, life advice in as joyful and tranquil a way possible.

Male authors who try to write from the POV of women almost always fail. I want to shake them and ask why they don’t ask their mothers or wives or daughters for help.

Alexander McCall Smith is the only privileged white male I’ve read who actually succeeds. In The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, he takes us to the African country of Botswana to meet Precious Ramotswe, who inherited her late father’s cattle and sold the herd to set up her private detective agency.

Precious is the only female detective in the country, a woman with a traditionally-large African figure.…

If you love a good cosy mystery and characters that unfold gently over time, this book is a must-read. Here, we meet Mma Precious Ramotswe, the only lady private detective in Botswana, as she solves the everyday mysteries of the people of Gabarone. 

The series centres around her and her particular approach to solving mysteries—through relaxed conversation over cups of tea. The surrounding cast of characters play a critical role in making the series shine. Seeing Botswana through Mma Ramotswe’s eyes is both honest and heart-warming. She recognises its beauty and strengths while acknowledging where her country still has the…

This book made me fall in love with the southern African country of Botswana as well as with Mma Ramotswe, the intrepid lady who starts a company to help people solve their problems. Her advice isn’t conventional, but it works! If a client’s husband has stolen an expensive auto, why not steal it back and return it to the rightful owner? I’m told that Alexander McCall Smith accurately depicts much about Botswana; he also celebrates decency, courage, empathy, and good humor. Happily, there are many more books in the series. They’re addictive.

Okay, you might know this book series by Alexander McCall-Smith. Although I experienced Botswana differently, I must give him literary license when it comes dramatising life in this country. I like how he mixes facts about Botswana with his fictional stories and puts my country of choice (for a couple of years) on the map.

From Evadeen's list on Southern Africa you might not know.

This is the first novel in a series and what I love about them all is that they show Africa in a positive light. The crimes our heroine, Precious Ramotswe, has to solve are whimsical rather than violent and show us all to be victims of the frailties of human nature rather than anything more sinister. I’m lucky enough to have travelled in Botswana and you can see a little bit of McCall Smiths characters in everyone you meet. I also love the way that he describes the richness of African everyday life, and the way he captures these moments…

From Robert's list on that show you the real Ethiopia.

This is the first of the long and very successful series, featuring Precious Ramotswe, founder of the agency and a super cast of supporting characters, including Grace Makutsi, her vain but faithful assistant,  and Mr. JLB Matekoni, genius mechanic and later Precious’s husband. The little stock company of characters is one of the charms of the series, but it is the character of Mma Ramotswe that is unusual. Detectives are all out to solve their cases and catch the perpetrator, Precious, too. But her ultimate aim is always restoration of civility with forgiveness, restitution, a change in attitudes. Her tact…

From Janice's list on unexpected detectives.

For a more gentle form of crime writing, away from the gore of many, this famous series is charming, witty, beautifully observed, sparingly written, but richly described. Precious Ramotswe and her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi detect. Wayward daughters. Missing Husbands. Philandering partners. Curious conmen. If you've got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only - and finest - female private detective. Unconventional, relying less on the procedure and more on warmth, wit, and canny intuition - not to mention Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng…

From Paul's list on crime thrillers set in Africa.

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