Mma "Precious" Ramotswe sets up a detective agency in Botswana on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, making her the only female detective in the country. At first, cases are hard to come by. But eventually, troubled people come to Precious with a variety of concerns. Potentially philandering husbands, seemingly schizophrenic doctors, and a missing boy who may have been killed by witch doctors all compel Precious to roam about in her tiny van, searching for clues.
Chosen as a Top Ten Mystery by the Organization of Independent Booksellers, U.S.A., The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is that rare novel that imparts a sage wisdom while inspiring hearty laughter and lasting smiles.
Listen to the other titles in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.
©1998 Alexander McCall Smith; (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
"One of the most entrancing literary treats of many a year...A tapestry of extraordinary nuance and richness." (Wall Street Journal)
"An artful, pleasing novel...General audiences will welcome this little gem of a book just as much if not more than mystery readers." (Publishers Weekly)
"Smart and sassy...Precious' progress is charted in passages that have the power to amuse or shock or touch the heart, sometimes all at once." (Los Angeles Times)
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
This review is intended to include the entire 15 book series. I recommend every book in the series without reservation.
The setting is the southern African democracy of Botswana. Precious Ramotswe starts and runs the first ladies detective agency in the country. She hires a young lady named Grace Makutsi, a recent top graduate of Botswana Secretarial College, to help in the office. Mma Remortswe eventually marries Mr. J.L.B. Mateconi who operates a car repair garage and locates the Ladies Number 1 Detective Agency in the garage facility. Mr. Mateconi's two apprentices are characters in the books throughout the series. The other repeating characters in the series are a lady who operates a local orphanage, two children, and Grace Makutsi's arch enemy from her days at the secretarial college.
I love this series! It is addictive. Character development is outstanding. The detective cases are not murders, but each is interesting. The geography, climate, customs, flora, and fauna of of Botswana are important parts of the stories.
Although I rate the first book in the series 4 stars, most of the books in the series earn 5 stars. The author Alexander McCall Smith, a Scot, spent years in Botswana and knows the country well.
The narrator, Lisette Lecat, is excellent.
Not only are these books thoroughly enjoyable and well written, but they put your mind at ease. What more could you ask for. Furthermore, this is the first series of books that I have ever preferred to listen to rather than to read. The narrator is perhaps the best I've ever heard.
Ms Lecat makes the characters jump off the audio page with her artful vocal interpretations. Listening to the stories unfold with the mystery at the end excitingly and movingly told by author is something not to be missed. If you have heart you will thoroughly enjoy this.
I could not believe how much of the country's flavor I was able to feel. Each country and their people are so interesting to me and this book invited me to a land that I will probably never visit. I saw real people and not just characters in a book. I will definately try another in the series.
but seriously grows on you. There is so much turmoil in Africa it is surprising to think that in some places life is "normal". Different from us of course but just "life". I don't know how accurate the account of everyday life in this book is but it was comforting to think it was real. Oh, the mystery parts were good too!
I read like a madwoman all my life but now I have bad eyes. Thank goodness for audio books
Just the right amount of drama and funny interjections. I love Ma Romotswe's point of view of the universe and her world. I have listened to all of these tales and keep listening to them again every year of so.
I am so pleased to have been introduced to this series through audible. I had heard vaguely about the series and the title intrigued me so I tried a listen. I'm preparing to now hear the 3rd book in the series as it has captivated. The story lines are good, if not profound, the ongoing relationships are welcoming and real, the narration is excellent, and the insight into Botswana and Africa and contrasts with the "West." is refreshing. Get it! You will not be disappointed. I've since sent copies of the hardcopy books to friends in Africa.
I'll say up front that this wasn't a terrible book, but it was certainly a puzzling one. I think it has a certain appeal to it, but I wouldn't consider it to be a "must read". In fact, I think you should probably understand the nature of this book a little better before you buy it, because if you expect it to be something other than what it is you're bound to be disappointed.
One thing this book is most decidedly *not* is a good detective story. Every single case in this book is completely straightforward. There are absolutely no red herrings, surprise twists, clever maneuvers, or brilliant feats of deduction. All that ever happens is that Ramotswe gets a case, she makes some inquiries, figures out the truth, and solves the case.
She's apparently smart and hard working, but a little amateurish - she gets caught twice while she's tailing a suspect, and at one point is even outsmarted by a teenage girl. The last case, the one revolving around the missing boy, was particularly silly since the clue that lead her to the conclusion turned out to have nothing to do with the boy whatsoever.
The story starts out by talking a little bit about Ramotswe and her father and the situation that lead to her opening the detective agency. Then it narrates a certain case that she took up regarding a question of identity. After that, the book takes a puzzling turn and starts narrating the life story of Ramotswe father. Then that leads into the life story of Ramotswe herself. This goes on for quite some time.
This part of the story wasn't completely uninteresting, but it did really throw me for a loop. I wasn't expecting something like that in a book that was supposed to be about a ladies' detective agency.
After this the book settles down to narrate how Ramotswe set up her business, gets her first case, and how she builds her business through time.
In spite of what some other people have said, this book is not character driven. The characters, for the most part, are completely flat and uninteresting. There's a little bit of depth to Ramotswe which comes from some of the things she went through as narrated in her life story, but during the rest of the book she experiences almost no character development. I think there may be some character development at the very end, which I won't reveal except to say that she changes her mind about something. But if felt abrupt, like it just suddenly happened without anything leading into it.
What this book is, is a story about Botswana. Ramotswe is just there to be the eyes through which to observe the story of this land and culture. Her detective agency is the vehicle that moves the story along by allowing her to interact with all different sorts of people who make up Botswana society. It's a story about understanding life in this foreign country through the concerns of the people who visit Ramotswe to ask for her help.
I think there's a ring of authenticity to the account, though I'd have to ask a Botswanan to be certain. The author isn't a native of Botswana, though he did live there for some years. Whether the story would sound authentic to a native's ears I cannot say, but it's certainly an interesting impression of the land and culture from somebody who has actually been there.
If you're expecting a riveting detective novel, an intricate plot, or a cast of memorable characters, you're bound to be disappointed with this book. Don't buy it. But if you want to hear an interesting story about the life and times of the people of Botswana, then I think you'll get a good deal of enjoyment out of this book, and you certainly *should* buy it. It's easy to see that the book has a dedicated following of readers who've enjoyed it tremendously.
Just know what you're getting into, and don't expect more from the book than it offers.
I avoided this book for a long time but finally decided to try it. It is one of those stories you cannot get enough of. I did not read the book but I think that the narrator Lisette Lecat added tremendously to the delight of the story.
inspiring, light, witty
The protagonist, Mme Mamatswe, is my favorite character. She never seems to take herself too seriously and knows exactly how to cut someone down to size without being cruel. An independent woman who overcomes circumstances that would leave others embittered, she retains her zest for life and love of her home village.
I have to say Mme Mamatswe once more. Liesette Lecat captured what I believe to be an accurate accent and cadence.
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