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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency PDF, ePub eBook From Book 1: THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY - Book 1 Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the/>Fans From Book 1: THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY - Book 1 Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma  Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea. 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. From the Trade Paperback edition.

30 review for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

  1. 5 out of 5

    ebnewberry Newberry

    A lot of people are under the impression that Alexander Mccall Smith books are strictly for middle aged women. This is NOT the case at all. These books are for everyone. They are not even just for women. A lot of people are also under the impression that these books are mystery books. This is also a misconception. Mysteries are a very small part of these stories. These books are about humanity and the small things that make it so good to be both human and alive. I dare anyone who is not happy to A lot of people are under the impression that Alexander Mccall Smith books are strictly for middle aged women. This is NOT the case at all. These books are for everyone. They are not even just for women. A lot of people are also under the impression that these books are mystery books. This is also a misconception. Mysteries are a very small part of these stories. These books are about humanity and the small things that make it so good to be both human and alive. I dare anyone who is not happy to read any of these books and not feel a little more hopeful when they finish. But they are not over the top. They are not Chicken Soup for the Soul. They are simply very subtle and very wise. I have recommended this book to countless people who unfortunately do not pick it up for the reasons that I have mentioned above. I have met Alexander Mccall Smith and he is one of the most joyful, intelligent, and interesting people I've ever encountered. All these qualities come across in his books. I'm so glad that he's a writing addict because I'm an addict of his books.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is a delightful work and a quick read to boot. Smith alternates between small bits of back-story for the central character, Precious Ramotswe, a woman of traditional build, young-middle-aged (30s?) divorcee, heavy with intelligence, gumption and cunning, and the mysteries she unravels as the sole detective of the title agency. Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe and Anika Noni Rose as Grace Makutsi - from the HBO production It is rich with payload on local (Botswana) color, and i The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is a delightful work and a quick read to boot. Smith alternates between small bits of back-story for the central character, Precious Ramotswe, a woman of traditional build, young-middle-aged (30s?) divorcee, heavy with intelligence, gumption and cunning, and the mysteries she unravels as the sole detective of the title agency. Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe and Anika Noni Rose as Grace Makutsi - from the HBO production It is rich with payload on local (Botswana) color, and is told in a simple, straightforward manner. One can almost hear it being spoken aloud by a story-teller around a campfire, or a pot of bush tea. It is a good thing that Smith wrote a whole herd of these books. One is not nearly enough. =============================EXTRA STUFF Here is a link to the HBO site for the show. If you have not yet seen the series, and are an HBO subscriber, you are in for a treat.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    I'm no fan of mystery, crime or detective books - the bore me, generally, though I loved Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher books in high school and Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers gave me chills (since renamed And Then There Were None, for obvious reasons - but I've got an old edition). The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a real gem, however. I absolutely loved it. Wise, funny, intelligent, insightful and blushing with vigour and a heartfelt love of Africa, I'm not in the least surprised this series - o/>The I'm no fan of mystery, crime or detective books - the bore me, generally, though I loved Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher books in high school and Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers gave me chills (since renamed And Then There Were None, for obvious reasons - but I've got an old edition). The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a real gem, however. I absolutely loved it. Wise, funny, intelligent, insightful and blushing with vigour and a heartfelt love of Africa, I'm not in the least surprised this series - of which this is the first book - has done so well. Set in Botswana, it features thirty-five year old Mma Ramotswe, a cunning, content and large (in the "traditional" way) woman who, after her father dies leaving her many head of cattle, sells up and opens a detective agency. Hired to track missing husbands, cheating husbands and thieving husbands, as well as daughters, sons and witch doctors, Precious Ramostwe has her hands full. Woven amongst the cases are beautiful descriptions of the land, insights into African culture in all its myriad forms, the life of her father, a miner in South Africa, and her own disastrous marriage which ended many years ago, and a sweet offer of love from one of her best friends, a successful mechanic. What is especially intriguing about this book, for me, is its seemingly chaotic structure. It follows no neat format, employs chapters within chapters, retells the past without incorporating it into the plot, shifts perspective between characters (though Mma Ramotswe has the focal perspective) whenever desired, and could sometimes be mistaken for short stories. And it all works, superbly so. It's new and refreshing and extremely well written, every word and sentence and paragraph there for a reason, the small plotlines and overarching plot spun out with perfect timing and deft handling. It is serious and wise and thoughtful when it needs to be, and light and ironic at other times. I kept thinking "this'd make a great tv show!" only to find that the BBC have already jumped on that bandwagon - shame it hasn't made it to Canada. Mma Ramotswe is a fantastic protagonist, a woman who stands up for herself and loves Africa despite its problems. I'm always interested in reading books set in Africa - the continent fascinates and intrigues me, its beauty draws me, and its the closest place to Australia, in terms of landscape and climate, that there is, which makes me feel like it's a kindred spirit. There are many places there that I would love to visit. I could go on for ages highlighting all the great things in this book - I have absolutely nothing negative to say or complain about, and it was wonderful to read a book with proper English spelling intact (except, at one point, the word "humour", which was very odd). The proof-readers should be careful about looking for wrong dialogue punctuation though - end quotation marks before a paragraph break within someone's speech. I'm seeing it occur in almost all the books I've been reading lately, it's very shoddy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Just could not get past the very obvious fact that this book is written by a white guy, trying to tell a story through the eyes of a Botswana(ese?) woman. It felt a bit patronising, as in, look how simply these people live, just hanging out in the hot sun watching their cattle, oh to live so simply like this, oh look this woman is setting up a detective agency, can you imagine that, a woman? A black woman? How quaint and adorable, etc. etc. It was a cute story, but that was the problem, it was a Just could not get past the very obvious fact that this book is written by a white guy, trying to tell a story through the eyes of a Botswana(ese?) woman. It felt a bit patronising, as in, look how simply these people live, just hanging out in the hot sun watching their cattle, oh to live so simply like this, oh look this woman is setting up a detective agency, can you imagine that, a woman? A black woman? How quaint and adorable, etc. etc. It was a cute story, but that was the problem, it was all just a bit too cute.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    I read about Africa & quickly want to be transported there. For a simpler life? The heart of this novel is its feminist protagonist, Mma Ramotswe who lives in a precious town in Gaborone, still untouched by technology or South African cosmopolitanism. This book is extremely feminist, in a very good, positive and enlightening way, as much as it is anticolonialist. But to counter this notion there is a heartwarming case that Mma Ramotswe, the number one (and sole) female detective i I read about Africa & quickly want to be transported there. For a simpler life? The heart of this novel is its feminist protagonist, Mma Ramotswe who lives in a precious town in Gaborone, still untouched by technology or South African cosmopolitanism. This book is extremely feminist, in a very good, positive and enlightening way, as much as it is anticolonialist. But to counter this notion there is a heartwarming case that Mma Ramotswe, the number one (and sole) female detective in Botswana, must face that is not as uncomplicated as gathering evidence on cheating husbands, insurance fraud, double identities, etc. It is the story of an African child, ripped away from his humble family, kidnapped by an African witch doctor. It compels the reader to subscribe to the belief that there must be a balance somewhere to both modernity and rural simplicity. The book is written using concise, minimalistic verbs. It has the charm of "Amelie" but reads like a Roald Dahl novel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sh3lly

    I feel like I should post a bit of a disclaimer first: This is not a book I would have chosen for myself. I picked it as my last challenge ("read a book set in Africa") for the Saucy Wenches 2016 Reading Challenge. That being said, this was a decent little story. It had a "cozy mystery" vibe. It wasn't complicated and a lot of the story in the beginning was backstory on Mma Ramotswe, the main character. I liked her. She is an unconventional leading lady - fat (we hear her described as such multi I feel like I should post a bit of a disclaimer first: This is not a book I would have chosen for myself. I picked it as my last challenge ("read a book set in Africa") for the Saucy Wenches 2016 Reading Challenge. That being said, this was a decent little story. It had a "cozy mystery" vibe. It wasn't complicated and a lot of the story in the beginning was backstory on Mma Ramotswe, the main character. I liked her. She is an unconventional leading lady - fat (we hear her described as such multiple times), fearless, unassuming, average looking. She is confident and successful on her own terms. The mysteries mainly involved cheating husbands and missing people. I enjoyed hearing about Botswana. There were encounters with a crocodile and dangerous snakes. The book was just as much about the development of characters as much as the "mysteries." The narrator, Lisette Lecat, was amazing. Her accents and voices were distinct and it was a top-notch performance. I am not sure if I will continue or not. It was a well-written book, but overall, I just thought it was a cozy mystery type book that didn't really leave me wondering what was going to come next?

  7. 4 out of 5

    My_Strange_Reading

    #mystrangereading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith ⭐⭐⭐ This book came in my cousin book exchange and had also been gifted to be by my dad a couple of Christmases ago, so I really needed to read it. Lol. 🕵🏾♀I loved Precious (Mma). I loved how strong and independent she was. I loved how she went after her dreams and I loved her cases. 🕵🏾♀ I loved how the culture of Botswana was ever present in each story told because you would not expect that from a white man writing a st #mystrangereading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book came in my cousin book exchange and had also been gifted to be by my dad a couple of Christmases ago, so I really needed to read it. Lol. 🕵️🏾‍♀️I loved Precious (Mma). I loved how strong and independent she was. I loved how she went after her dreams and I loved her cases. 🕵️🏾‍♀️ I loved how the culture of Botswana was ever present in each story told because you would not expect that from a white man writing a story about an African woman. I know he was born in Zimbabwe and worked in Botswana so that gives him a unique perspective, but I still found his writing of the underlying cultural norms and values of this country to be amazingly insightful. 🕵️🏾‍♀️ I struggled with the pacing of this book. The cases and then the 'big case' all just seemed to meld together into unremarkable storylines which was disappointing because the premise of the book was really intriguing. All in all, I will not be continuing the series and I might recommend to readers who really love detective stories and are looking for a different twist on the trope, but it wasn't my favorite.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    When Precious Ramotswe’s father died and left her with his cattle, the sale made her quite wealthy. Her decision to open the first Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana – in fact the only detective agency – was an easy one. And of course, she had to have a secretary, even though she had no clients (as yet). She hired Grace Makutsi and together they enjoyed many cups of tea between the occasional case. Mma Ramotswe was admired by many, but her intuition and stubborn desire to solve peopl When Precious Ramotswe’s father died and left her with his cattle, the sale made her quite wealthy. Her decision to open the first Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana – in fact the only detective agency – was an easy one. And of course, she had to have a secretary, even though she had no clients (as yet). She hired Grace Makutsi and together they enjoyed many cups of tea between the occasional case. Mma Ramotswe was admired by many, but her intuition and stubborn desire to solve people’s problems saw her succeed in (most of) the cases she was asked to investigate. Would her business be a success and make a profit? The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith was an absolutely delightful experience! I thoroughly enjoyed it and the intelligent humour fits Precious Ramotswe’s character perfectly! An oldie, but a goodie! And I’ll be reading more 😊 Thanks to my goodreads friends for the recommendation.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ines

    Precious Ramotswe is a super nice woman, and the story told by the great McCall Smith is really fun, it was for me a perfect read after books with heavy narratives, violent and extreme, I needed to relax a bit and smile a lot 😉 , and so came Precious! Precious’s presentation is very meticulous, I loved how the writer presents her life, not only her wonderful qualities and talents, but also her weaknesses and sorrows of the past ( wrecked marriage and a child in heaven) Precious is well characterized without heaviness or without re Precious Ramotswe is a super nice woman, and the story told by the great McCall Smith is really fun, it was for me a perfect read after books with heavy narratives, violent and extreme, I needed to relax a bit and smile a lot 😉 , and so came Precious! Precious’s presentation is very meticulous, I loved how the writer presents her life, not only her wonderful qualities and talents, but also her weaknesses and sorrows of the past ( wrecked marriage and a child in heaven) Precious is well characterized without heaviness or without redundancy of constant winning and positive aspects in her investigations.... The story then of the Botswana is presented with historical meticulousness, and here McCall Smith has been fantastic, every Bostwana state enterprises but also social or urban aspects are exactly reported with fidelity without yielding on this aspect to fiction.... The part a little more 'weak is definitely the series of investigations' agency,some are very funny and positive stories along with some more' dramatic and painful... but presented and resolved quickly, with little thickness of elements and investigative twist effects. Precious however is very nice, a woman to hug and have her as a friend! I will definitely read the other books of the collection. PS: I never saw, I didn't knew before about HBO TV series Precious Ramotswe è una donna troppo simpatica, e la storia narrata dal grandissimo McCall Smith è veramente uno spasso, è stata per me una lettura perfetta dopo libri con narrazioni pesanti, violente ed estreme, avevo bisogno di rilassarmi e sorridere un pò, e così è arrivata Precious! La presentazione di Precious è molto meticolosa, mi è piaciuto molto come viene raccontata la sua vita, non solo i suoi meravigliosi pregi e doti, ma anche le sue debolezze e e dolori del passato ( matrimonio naufragato e un bimbo in cielo) Il personaggio è ben caratterizzato senza pesantezza o ridondanza di aspetti sempre vincenti e positivi nelle sue indagini.... La storia poi del Botswana è presentata con meticolosità storica, e qui McCall Smith è stato fantastico, ogni impresa ma anche aspetti sociali o urbanistici vengono esattamente riportati con fedeltà senza cedere su questo aspetto alla finzione.... La parte un pochino piu' debolina è sicuramente la serie di indagini dell' agenzia, sono storielle molto simpatiche e divertenti insieme ad alcune piu' drammatiche e dolorose... ma presentate e risolte con rapidità, con poco spessore di elementi e twist investigativi ad effetto. Precious comunque è simpaticissima, una donna da abbracciare e averla come amica! Sicuramente leggerò gli altri libri della raccolta. PS: non ho mai visto, ne sapevo della serie televisiva della HBO 😉

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    i am probably the only person in the whole world who thinks this but these books are singularly underwhelming. Nothing ever happens. The characters are annoying. To be honest I did only read this first one but couldn't face another. Have refrained from putting this on my list till now cos I always thought I might try another and find it more interesting but then I thought there are enormous caverns of books as yet undiscovered. Why force myself to read another book of this just because I feel I i am probably the only person in the whole world who thinks this but these books are singularly underwhelming. Nothing ever happens. The characters are annoying. To be honest I did only read this first one but couldn't face another. Have refrained from putting this on my list till now cos I always thought I might try another and find it more interesting but then I thought there are enormous caverns of books as yet undiscovered. Why force myself to read another book of this just because I feel I should. So Mr McCall Smith, have a good life

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    This collection of vignettes disguised as a novel was a great read. The main character is a gentle African woman who decides to be a detective to help other people. She is a delightful character, with light humor and a big heart. Agency isn't like any other detective novels...the characters are much more developed and the "mysteries" aren't the usual murders, whether cosy or hard-boiled. If you'd like a sweet trip to another culture, calmer and gnetler than ours, this is a book for you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    5★ A new favourite! I know, I know. I’m late to Precious Ramotswe and her wonderful business, and I shouldn’t have waited so long to enjoy these books. I loved this first book in the series. Funny, good-natured, good-hearted and poignant. How a white Scotsman got into the head of a black lady in Botswana (or vice versa) is beyond me, but thank goodness for us readers that he did. She is absolutely delightful. “Mma Ramotswe was not tall—being blessed with generous girth, rather than height…” 5★ A new favourite! I know, I know. I’m late to Precious Ramotswe and her wonderful business, and I shouldn’t have waited so long to enjoy these books. I loved this first book in the series. Funny, good-natured, good-hearted and poignant. How a white Scotsman got into the head of a black lady in Botswana (or vice versa) is beyond me, but thank goodness for us readers that he did. She is absolutely delightful. “Mma Ramotswe was not tall—being blessed with generous girth, rather than height…” Precious’s beloved father has worked all his life in the mines to amass an impressive cattle herd, and when he dies too young, she is scathing of the mining industry. She describes his terrifying life underground and how the wealthy owners take advantage of black workers. “The Sotho miners used to sing ‘The mines eat men. Even when you have left them, the mines will still be eating you.'” When she decides to cash up the cattle herd and establish the first detective agency run by ladies (well, A lady and a secretary/clerk), she is very business-like. She does things herself, approaches the bank, finds a house, finds an office, hires a secretary, and looks for business. Her first clients do end up being ladies checking up on husbands, but she quickly graduates to fraud and kidnapping, often for men's clients who are comfortable talking to her. We never forget this is Botswana, specifically Gaborone, on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and all that represents, including the wildlife, really wild – life. She shoots a croc, suspecting it’s responsible for a disappearance. “She took a knife and slit through the creature’s belly. The leather was soft, and the stomach was soon exposed.” She deals with a cobra and then there are witch doctors. But it’s hers. Standing under the night sky she’s drawing “the dry clear air into her lungs. And she thought: I am just a tiny person in Africa , but there is a place for me, and for everybody, to sit down on this earth and touch it and call it their own.” Another time: “Dusk was approaching, and the sky was streaked with gold. This was her favourite time of the day, when the birds went dipping and swooping through the air and the insects of the night started to shriek. In this gentle light, the cattle would be walking home and the fires outside the huts would be crackling and glowing for the evening’s cooking.” There are plenty of flashbacks to bad episodes in her life, but her overall attitude is one of finding the joy in everything. She doesn’t complain, but she certainly wonders why some people are so ignorant or mean-spirited. I enjoyed the various characters, the descriptions of a very different part of the world from mine and why Mma Ramotswe loves it so. Disclaimer – I had seen the TV series so was predisposed to like the books, but if they’d fallen short of expectations, I’d say so. Nope. Terrific book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eric Bjerke

    I put off reading this series for a long time until I found out that it wasn't a book for "ladies," but one to be enjoyed by readers of both sexes--and enjoy it I did. In its simple and conversational manner, this book taught me a little bit about many things: Botswana, African culture in general, working in the diamond mines of South Africa, and human nature. Through the first-person account of Precious Ramotswe we are treated to an assortment of quirky detective stories that are intertwined with I put off reading this series for a long time until I found out that it wasn't a book for "ladies," but one to be enjoyed by readers of both sexes--and enjoy it I did. In its simple and conversational manner, this book taught me a little bit about many things: Botswana, African culture in general, working in the diamond mines of South Africa, and human nature. Through the first-person account of Precious Ramotswe we are treated to an assortment of quirky detective stories that are intertwined with the ups and downs of her life. It is in various parts funny, interesting, and heartbreaking. I especially like when the things that she experiences reveal truths about human nature and life in general: "You can go through life and make new friends every year--every month practically--but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into the adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steal." And there are often some short but profound observations that find their way into the middle of the cases she is trying to solve. Mma Ramotswe was in the middle of cracking a case and approached the house of a dangerous, child-abducting witch doctor and asked for a class of water: "She turned around, almost guiltily, and stared. It was a large black beetle, a setotojane, with its horny neck, pushing at a minute trophy, some insect tht had died of thirst perhaps. Little disasters, little victories; like ours, she thought; when viewed from above we are no more than setotojane." I try not to be too effusive with my praise and rate books four and five very often. I gave this a three, but that doesn't mean I don't think it is a worthy read. I definitely plan on reading more of the series; what endorsement can be better than that?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lyuda

    Just wonderful! I wish I could meet the heroine in real life. I see that many readers shelved this book under mysteries. I would say if you picked this book expecting a crime/mystery genre, you would be disappointed. Yes, the heroine solves mysteries as part of her business of being a private detective. But the mysteries are very small part of the story and they are not why I loved the book. What really is wonderful is how these detective stories turn into little pieces full of fascinating descr Just wonderful! I wish I could meet the heroine in real life. I see that many readers shelved this book under mysteries. I would say if you picked this book expecting a crime/mystery genre, you would be disappointed. Yes, the heroine solves mysteries as part of her business of being a private detective. But the mysteries are very small part of the story and they are not why I loved the book. What really is wonderful is how these detective stories turn into little pieces full of fascinating descriptions of Botswana, insights into culture in all its myriad forms stitched together by a deceptively simplistic language into a big and colorful quilt. A quilt that represent a heartfelt love of the country. It's one of those books that you read for the journey, not the destination. And at the heart of it all is our wonderful heroine, Mma Ramotswe, the first lady detective in Botswana. After her beloved father death, Mma Ramotswe used her small inheritance to open a business, “the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”. It wasn’t easy at the beginning as she battles chauvinism, sometimes works for free for a good friend, and gradually develops a solid name for herself. Her native good sense leads her to creative ways of solving cases involving insurance fraud, wayward teenagers, and cheating husbands. But, as I mentioned, there is so much more to the story than just retelling the cases. I love Mma Ramotswe. In a culture where female dependence is embedded in history, Mma acts with extraordinary strength and courage. Her determination to overcome adversities in life both personal as well as societal earned her admiration and respect from many even from some men who wanted to dismiss her in the first place. There was a funny scene when the heroine went to a lawyer about opening her business: The lawyer winced as she spoke. “It’s easy to lose money in business,” he said. “Especially when you don’t know anything about what you’re doing.” He stared at her hard. “Especially then. And anyway, can women be detectives? Do you think they can?” “Why not?” said Mma Ramotswe. She had heard that people did not like lawyers, and now she thought she could see why. This man was so certain of himself, so utterly convinced. What had it to do with him what she did? It was her money, her future. And how dare he say that about women, when he didn’t even know that his zip was half undone! Should she tell him? “Women are the ones who know what’s going on,” she said quietly. “They are the ones with eyes. Have you not heard of Agatha Christie?” The lawyer looked taken aback. “Agatha Christie? Of course, I know her. Yes, that is true. A woman sees more than a man sees. That is well-known.” “So,” said Mma Ramotswe, “when people see a sign saying NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY, what will they think? They’ll think those ladies will know what’s going on. They’re the ones.” The lawyer stroked his chin. “Maybe.” “Yes,” said Mma Ramotswe. “Maybe.” Adding, “Your zip, Rra. I think you may not have noticed …” Although in parts the book is quite funny, on the whole I found the story moving and lyrical and full of quiet wisdom. This was a selection for my book club. I’m very glad to discover such a wonderful gem.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    If you have had a rough week, if your day has been hectic and you feel frazzled, I recommend sitting down with The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency for a while. I would describe the feeling of reading it to be “calming.” It is very unlike the North American or Scandinavian crime fiction genre. I’ve never been to Botswana, but I felt like I had taken a mini-holiday there by the end of the book. And you get an insight into the people and their culture than you would never get as a tourist—a sens If you have had a rough week, if your day has been hectic and you feel frazzled, I recommend sitting down with The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency for a while. I would describe the feeling of reading it to be “calming.” It is very unlike the North American or Scandinavian crime fiction genre. I’ve never been to Botswana, but I felt like I had taken a mini-holiday there by the end of the book. And you get an insight into the people and their culture than you would never get as a tourist—a sense of how completely different their approach to life is. Just took a look and have realized that there are seventeen books so far in this series. I have friends who adore them and I can see why they do. I felt that No. 1 was quite well written and I liked Precious Ramotswe very much as a main character. I love the kindness and the gentleness that contrasts with the situations when she gets tough. This was a selection for my real-life book club and is also a recommendation by Book Riot (their African authors reading list). I’m very glad to have read it and eventually I may get around to further books in the series. For now, I am off to other things. So many books, so little time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anuradha

    "Women are the ones who knows what's going on," she said quietly . "They are the ones with eyes. Have you not heard of Agatha Christie?" I love Mma Ramotswe. She is funny, wonderful, brave, and unapologetically a feminist. Sure, she's made mistakes. Sure, she's done stupid things, but then again, that just gives her more character. Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course. I was born in Botswana; "Women are the ones who knows what's going on," she said quietly . "They are the ones with eyes. Have you not heard of Agatha Christie?" I love Mma Ramotswe. She is funny, wonderful, brave, and unapologetically a feminist. Sure, she's made mistakes. Sure, she's done stupid things, but then again, that just gives her more character. Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course. I was born in Botswana; my parents lived there for about four years together, and my father had lived there for about six years before he got married. And so, for some reason, because I've heard so many stories about life and the people there, things in this book did not come as a culture shock to me. Even such things as finding a cobra in your car, because my father once found a black mamba in his. My parents regaled me with tales of what, according to them, was the nicest country in the world. They told me about the warm people of Botswana, with big hearts, about the easy life there, about the vegetable gardens, about the Kalahari. After all, people want to be left alone to look after their cattle. And so, reading this book, in some ways was kind of nostalgic, I guess, even though I personally have no memory of anything. But Mma Ramotswe reminded me of every Motswana woman my parents ever told me about - the maid, the cook, the neighbour - large in body and heart, and always willing to help. Sure, the mysteries here aren't really the Sherlock Holmes kinds that we usually read, but smaller mysteries involving cheats and philanderers, and the occasional witchcraft. But then again, that is the point, because Botswana, at least the Botswana portrayed in the book, the Botswana of the by-gone eras, wasn't really much plagued by crimes like rape and murder as it was by crimes like petty theft and fraud. My parents, in fact, recall tales of having had their tyres and/or fuel stolen from their cars in the middle of the night. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is a warm, cosy story written beautifully. The language is simple, as are the characters, but sometimes, there is beauty in simplicity, and this book is an instance of that. Because sometimes, it's just best to admire the simple things in life. Like pumpkin. It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency This is my third time through AM Smith’s lovely launch of this series. I adore Mma Ramotswe, and Mma Makutsi and the entire cast of characters that appear throughout the 19 books that comprise (so far!) this enchanting group about Botswana and the further adventures of No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I enjoy the narrator of the audio format, Lesette Lecat, and look forward to each new book. Precious Ramotswe is traditionally built, and here at the st The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency This is my third time through AM Smith’s lovely launch of this series. I adore Mma Ramotswe, and Mma Makutsi and the entire cast of characters that appear throughout the 19 books that comprise (so far!) this enchanting group about Botswana and the further adventures of No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I enjoy the narrator of the audio format, Lesette Lecat, and look forward to each new book. Precious Ramotswe is traditionally built, and here at the start of the series is not yet married – she has been in a nightmare marriage, and has other harrowing experiences, not the least of which is losing her father. This makes an orphan of her, this very well-loved daughter, and she needs to figure out what she is going to do for a living, and with her copy of The Principles of Private Detection by Clovis Andersen clutched to her ample bosom, decides to open her agency for business. From there, the delights fall out page after page. This is a delightful series – all kinds of issues have been tackled: infidelity, voodoo, witchcraft, overweening pride, country people v city people, to school or not to school, African traditions, religion, AIDS/HIV, men v women, orphans, displaced people set right, virtue, justice, death, depression, domestic violence, forgiveness/reconciliation, true friendship, revenge (worth it or not?) and so many others! These are quick reads, and I like to read them in order because of the new people introduced, although I suspect that is just my OCD hanging out again. I’d bet a person can pick them up out of order, especially once they have ready the first one, and catch on sufficiently to hang on and enjoy the ride to the same degree my walk of order dictates. Because they are re-readables, I give them 5 stars!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    This book was built on slow paced descriptions of African - Botswanian, to be precise - life and on the charismatic character of Mma Ramotswe, the first lady detective in Botswana. I didn't mind the slow pace, and I loved Precious Ramotswe. Also, I didn't mind that some mysteries were rather predictable and there wasn't any crazy action with shooting and whatnot. I enjoyed the "slice of life" pictures of Africa a lot. The warm relationship between Precious and her father was truly touching. Thi This book was built on slow paced descriptions of African - Botswanian, to be precise - life and on the charismatic character of Mma Ramotswe, the first lady detective in Botswana. I didn't mind the slow pace, and I loved Precious Ramotswe. Also, I didn't mind that some mysteries were rather predictable and there wasn't any crazy action with shooting and whatnot. I enjoyed the "slice of life" pictures of Africa a lot. The warm relationship between Precious and her father was truly touching. This book was charming, relaxing and really what I needed most right now. I'll probably read next books in series. And I surely will watch the BBC series with one of my favest performers ever Jill Scott as Precious!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lula

    I listened to this book on CD! The woman reading it is awesome! And the African Music in the background sets the scene perfectly! This is the perfect, lighthearted book to listen to in the car. I drove around daydreaming that I was driving through the Kalihari! Loved it!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Pleasant and somewhat interesting, but not compelling. It's my impression that mystery novels are part puzzle and part vehicle for depicting a cross-section of life in some locale. The puzzle part in No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was never very elaborate. Most mysteries arose and resolved in the span of one chapter. In fact it seemed like the point was to showcase Precious' subtle knack for zeroing in and keeping things from being more complex than they need to be. Precious and her a Pleasant and somewhat interesting, but not compelling. It's my impression that mystery novels are part puzzle and part vehicle for depicting a cross-section of life in some locale. The puzzle part in No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was never very elaborate. Most mysteries arose and resolved in the span of one chapter. In fact it seemed like the point was to showcase Precious' subtle knack for zeroing in and keeping things from being more complex than they need to be. Precious and her approach to sleuthing were charming and pleasant, but not page-turning for me. The slice of life aspect was interesting because I know almost nothing about Botswana. I got a sense of the landscape, the pace of life, the economy, and the culture. I might pick up another book in this series one day, but I'm not making it a priority right now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    In this introductory novel, I fell in love with Precious -- and never looked back. I gobbled all the books in the series, and the only thing left is to list them all here on goodreads in my "already done that" list. Not that I don't go back to them again and again, when I want some good laughs, some good old fashioned "comfort reading". Once again, my daughter hit it out of the ball park when she recommended these books to me all those years ago. It was another overnighter: staying in the big ci In this introductory novel, I fell in love with Precious -- and never looked back. I gobbled all the books in the series, and the only thing left is to list them all here on goodreads in my "already done that" list. Not that I don't go back to them again and again, when I want some good laughs, some good old fashioned "comfort reading". Once again, my daughter hit it out of the ball park when she recommended these books to me all those years ago. It was another overnighter: staying in the big city, and knowing I never slept anymore, she handed me McCall Smith's first in this series. Predictably, I read til dawn and enjoyed every precious moment. There is more about life here, than there is mystery; more of a how-to manual on how to treat people, how to respect them; less of a whodunnit, and for that it is all the more enjoyable. Precious Ramostswe in Miss Marple, modern, with lots of sass and savvy. 

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ace

    What a refreshing change to read the great little Botswanian mysteries that unfold, as the wonderfully strong and fiercely independent Precious Ramotswe sets up her agency. I will be reading the rest of this series for sure and I must learn how to cook chicken with pumpkin! "She stopped. It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat y What a refreshing change to read the great little Botswanian mysteries that unfold, as the wonderfully strong and fiercely independent Precious Ramotswe sets up her agency. I will be reading the rest of this series for sure and I must learn how to cook chicken with pumpkin! "She stopped. It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin." ― Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was pretty good and a quick read. I love mystery books lately - especially after diving into the Hercule series. The book is set in Botswana and is about Mma Ramotswe, who opens up a detective agency. She is hired to track missing, cheating, or thieving husbands. She also dabbles in finding daughters, sons, and witch doctors. Basically if you need someone found - she's your girl. She of course has had trouble with her own life. After ending a terrible marriage she mi The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was pretty good and a quick read. I love mystery books lately - especially after diving into the Hercule series. The book is set in Botswana and is about Mma Ramotswe, who opens up a detective agency. She is hired to track missing, cheating, or thieving husbands. She also dabbles in finding daughters, sons, and witch doctors. Basically if you need someone found - she's your girl. She of course has had trouble with her own life. After ending a terrible marriage she might find a new love with one of her best friends. Which of course, I fully supported. Mma Ramotswe was such a lovable character. She stood up for herself and for Africa. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I honestly wouldn't have read this book if it wasn't for a challenge that asked for book set in Africa. I really wanted to know how this whole story was going to play out. Will her business fail or thrive? Will she find the missing child and the witch doctor? I developed so many questions while reading this book and I enjoyed how it ended as well.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I should have paid more attention to the reviewer who said that this is not a mystery. It's not. And that's what I was after. This is a collection of tales about people and their problems. The main character solves their problems in unconventional ways, and so maintains a private detective agency. It is told in simplistic language, distancing me from the stories, which are rambling and random. There is little cohesion to the plot. It's a more realistic ebb and flow of lives that cross each other I should have paid more attention to the reviewer who said that this is not a mystery. It's not. And that's what I was after. This is a collection of tales about people and their problems. The main character solves their problems in unconventional ways, and so maintains a private detective agency. It is told in simplistic language, distancing me from the stories, which are rambling and random. There is little cohesion to the plot. It's a more realistic ebb and flow of lives that cross each other once and probably won't again. There are some sad, heartwarming, and amusing stories, but I felt like I was listening to an old man recounting tales that mean more to him than to me. So for me, this was just ok. Several times it peaked into slightly interesting, but mostly not. I don't intend to read more of the series, and now I'm going to go find myself a real mystery, which is what I wanted in the first place.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    The only thing I didn't like was that it had to end. I learned that you don't have to write elloquently to write a book. Marcos keeps telling me I should write children's books. This book was so simple and yet so enjoyable that it makes me wonder if I really could write a book too. Because each mystery/case is so short and precise, it doesn't need all the suspense other books use. I think the suspense in this book is about finding out what the next problem wil be and how cl The only thing I didn't like was that it had to end. I learned that you don't have to write elloquently to write a book. Marcos keeps telling me I should write children's books. This book was so simple and yet so enjoyable that it makes me wonder if I really could write a book too. Because each mystery/case is so short and precise, it doesn't need all the suspense other books use. I think the suspense in this book is about finding out what the next problem wil be and how clever she is to solve it. One question asked in book club was if women are more perceptive than men. I don't feel that all women are more perceptive than all men. It depends on personality. However, I would venture to generalize that many women seem to be more sensitive to other people's feelings than most men are.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I love all the books in this series. They are funny and insightful and full of wisdom. I can hardly wait for the next one to come out. These are books I love to read and don't hesitate to recommend to anyone. One friend I recommended them to didn't like them. She said it was like reading a book written for twelve-year-olds (Mr. McCall Smith has written several books for children). Well, maybe that's why I like them; I love to read childrens/young adult fiction!. I wouldn't hesitate to have a twe I love all the books in this series. They are funny and insightful and full of wisdom. I can hardly wait for the next one to come out. These are books I love to read and don't hesitate to recommend to anyone. One friend I recommended them to didn't like them. She said it was like reading a book written for twelve-year-olds (Mr. McCall Smith has written several books for children). Well, maybe that's why I like them; I love to read childrens/young adult fiction!. I wouldn't hesitate to have a twelve year old read them or recommend them to a senior citizen from my church. They have a completely innocent content that is unusual in today's publishing. Yet, they are totally enjoyable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Juli

    This story is absolutely charming! Mma Precious Ramotswe spends several years caring for her elderly father in his home in Botswana. Her father suffers from lung disease after years working in the mines. When he passes away, Mma Ramotswe inherits his money and uses it to open a business....a detective agency. She is the only female detective in Botswana and isn't really trained in investigation, but she has wits, intelligence, and intuition. At first, cases are few and she worries her business w This story is absolutely charming! Mma Precious Ramotswe spends several years caring for her elderly father in his home in Botswana. Her father suffers from lung disease after years working in the mines. When he passes away, Mma Ramotswe inherits his money and uses it to open a business....a detective agency. She is the only female detective in Botswana and isn't really trained in investigation, but she has wits, intelligence, and intuition. At first, cases are few and she worries her business will not take off. But then cases start trickling in.....cheating husbands, a disappearance, a stolen car, a boy who may have been killed by witch doctors, a rich man's daughter who sneaks out to be with boys..... As the list of cases grows, so does Mma Ramotswe's confidence and reputation. She is not just the only female detective in Botswana....she is the BEST female detective in Botswana. The Number One. :) I have to say that this book surprised me. I have had this first book on my TBR shelf for YEARS....and it just seemed to always get pushed aside for other things. I'm sorry I waited so long! Mma Ramotswe is such an intelligent, witty and capable main character. She greets her every day tasks with love, understanding and diligence. Within this first story her background and history are recounted along with the stories of how she became a detective and her first few cases. Sprinkled in among the cases and anecdotes about Mma Ramotswe's life, there is also the story of the history and people of Botswana. It's just a beautiful, humorous and incredibly entertaining story. I'm sorry I took so long to read it! I listened to the audio book version of this story. Narrated by Lisette LeCat, the audio is just over 8 hours long. LeCat has a beautiful voice and she brings the characters in the story to life. Totally entertaining performance! I will definitely be listening to more books in this series. I love reading....but having this series read to me will be awesome! I already have the second book, Tears of the Giraffe, checked out from my library's digital site! There are 19 books in this series so far, with a 20th (To the Land of Long Lost Friends) coming out in September 2019.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    I'm so glad I gave this series another try. Parts of this book were 5 stars for me, I really enjoyed parts that focused on the characters and their life experiences. Mma Ramotswe is a wonderful strong character and I'm looking forward to getting to know her more through the series. I really enjoyed the gentle escapism this book provides by taking you Botswana and I love the cultural details such as (view spoiler)[ Mma Ramotswe says she greeted her daddy in I'm so glad I gave this series another try. Parts of this book were 5 stars for me, I really enjoyed parts that focused on the characters and their life experiences. Mma Ramotswe is a wonderful strong character and I'm looking forward to getting to know her more through the series. I really enjoyed the gentle escapism this book provides by taking you Botswana and I love the cultural details such as (view spoiler)[ Mma Ramotswe says she greeted her daddy in the traditional Botswanan way which was a curtsey followed by clapping your hands (hide spoiler)] As most reviews say, the mysteries aren't the main part of the book but they definitely add something to the story and I love the idea that a woman in Botswana has the bravery to set up a business that in that time and place would be seen as a profession for only men. I was very surprised to notice these books are written by a man, I expected Mma Ramotswe's character to have been created by a woman and possibly by a Botswanan woman! I'm so looking forward to meeting these characters again in the next story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I have not read very many books set in Africa or featuring African culture. In fact, I can only think of one other one off the top of my head, and I didn't care for it much. But both of them were similar in that they both told their story by way of mini-stories, and each one of those has something of a moral or message. I've read so little in this niche that I don't know if that's something that is common in Africa-based storytelling, or if it just happens to be coincidental, but I can say for c I have not read very many books set in Africa or featuring African culture. In fact, I can only think of one other one off the top of my head, and I didn't care for it much. But both of them were similar in that they both told their story by way of mini-stories, and each one of those has something of a moral or message. I've read so little in this niche that I don't know if that's something that is common in Africa-based storytelling, or if it just happens to be coincidental, but I can say for certain that I liked it much better in this book than in that other one. For one, they really were more like chapters that each detailed their own very focused content, rather than a collection of stories that were only related by characters. Here, the stories did progress the overall plot, and showed us who Mma Ramotswe is, and who the people she knows are, and where she's from, and how she grew up, etc. It does this by kind of jumping all over the place, both in time and in narrative tense, as well as sometimes shifting perspectives. To be honest, I didn't mind that so much, but I could see how it could throw someone off if they are looking for a kind of straightforward cozy mystery. It is that, but it also isn't. There's not really much mystery here, and the plot is pretty weak. But I don't think that this is a story (or series) that one reads for the plot. It's one of those books that you read for the journey, not the destination. The fact that this book was touted as being "charming, honest, hilarious, and life-affirming" is admittedly one of the reasons I picked it up right now, having just read some really horrific stuff recently. But, I'm not the type who really enjoys that kind of thing. I don't really seek out charming stories full of hope and happiness. It usually just bores me. And unfortunately, this book didn't do much for me in that regard. I was only mildly interested for most of it. I was most interested in the story of the boy who was kidnapped, and that was barely present at all in the book. I was one of those people who came to this story thinking that it really was a mystery - as well charming and funny, etc. So that was a bit disappointing... But mainly it was disappointing not because it wasn't resolved, but because everything was resolved so incredibly easily. There wasn't a single case that Mma Ramotswe didn't solve almost immediately, after having all the luck go her way and nary a snag or difficult person to impede her. She would just think for a bit, come up with her solution, give it a try, and then it was done. Presto! If there was a culprit, as soon as she accused, he'd fold and take full responsibility. It was just... unrealistic. People are shitty. They don't just say "Oh well, you guessed correctly! I guess I have to own up and admit my crimes and take my punishment!" Life doesn't work like that. Furthermore, while the kidnapper may have been discovered, they certainly weren't dealt with or stopped. In fact, most of the people just got a stern look and a "don't do it again!" from Mma Ramotswe, and then just got to go on their merry way. Speaking of Mma Ramotswe, she was a very inconsistent character for me. We're told how smart she is - honors at school, a great artist, intuitive and perceptive and patient. All leading up to me thinking that she's perfect in every way, even down to her being the perfectly plump traditionally large African woman (not a twig like they show on the advertisements, right?). She supposed to be honest, except when it behooves her to lie. She's supposed to be anti-marriage, except when she decides to marry again, out of the blue, after having turned down at least three men who are all in love with her for some reason. She gives a false name to people who can in no way hurt her, while giving known dangerous people her real name. And she's supposed to be a good judge of character, and can tell when people are lying, yet falls for a lie from a teenager, while believing the story of a known fraudster. I don't get her. Anyway, there were some beautiful descriptions of Africa, and the passion for home and country does shine through this book, for sure. I also thought that segments of it were very insightful, but overall, I just can't say that this book was for me, and I probably won't continue the series. This wasn't a bad book, but I am definitely not the target audience for something like this. I'm too analytical and judgemental, and I can't just enjoy the story, I end up nitpicking things like this to death.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Wow, so this series definitely holds up to a reread. Now that I've read to the end in terms of books published to date (more to come 11/17!), I decided to reread it. Why? Because nothing comes close, for me, in terms of a comfort read with soul, wisdom, great characters I've come to love and appreciate, and a beautifully alive setting in Botswana. I wish I could convince everyone to try this series out. ***For readers who have tried the first and didn't move on, please try the second, Tears of t Wow, so this series definitely holds up to a reread. Now that I've read to the end in terms of books published to date (more to come 11/17!), I decided to reread it. Why? Because nothing comes close, for me, in terms of a comfort read with soul, wisdom, great characters I've come to love and appreciate, and a beautifully alive setting in Botswana. I wish I could convince everyone to try this series out. ***For readers who have tried the first and didn't move on, please try the second, Tears of the Giraffe, before abandoning it. The first book has a fair amount of backstory for both the main character and her father. It goes on with what feels like a collection of unrelated cases for the m/c to solve, leaving the reader a little adrift, at times. The rest of the books don't have that disjointed feeling. There is usually one major case and sometimes one or two others that sit off to the side and are mentioned briefly. As the series progresses, more time is spent fleshing out the characters, and we read as much to see what's going on with them as we do to hear about Mma Ramotswe's latest case. They feel more like novels than a novella wrapped around a series of short stories, as this one does. I promise, this series gets better as it goes. How many series with 17 volumes can you say that about? The audiobooks are all narrated, expertly, by Lisette LeCat. She does an amazing job and I can't think of one way she could improve. Six stars for every audio performance across the board. Please give this book and the second one a try, particularly if you're looking for a comfort read that is never sweet or cutesy, written by a humble gentleman with a heart of gold. Lots of humor, you will come to love the characters, and as the pages turn, you'll feel like you're drifting in a boat on a still lake, with the sun gently shining and nowhere else to be. Just perfect! They say this series is author Alexander McCall Smith's love letter to Botswana. A quote to illustrate this: "He looked at her in the darkness, at this woman who was everything to him--mother, Africa, wisdom, understanding, good things to eat, pumpkins, chicken, the smell of sweet cattle breath, the white sky across the endless, endless bush, and the giraffe that cried, giving its tears for women to daub on their baskets; O Botswana, my country, my place." ***Original review from 2010 1st read*** 4.5 stars. This is exactly what I was looking for. A sweet, wise, wonderful book - and even better that it's the first of a series. Great audio performance as well. I really can't believe this is written by a man. The voice is so pure. I just loved it, and I'll be reading Tears of a Giraffe later on this week, with any luck. Thx to Jeane, Fiona, Jon and I'm sure there are others for pushing this on me multiple times until I finally gave in!

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