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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency | [Alexander McCall Smith]

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

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.
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Publisher's Summary

This remarkably fresh and charming best seller took the world by storm upon its publication. It has since earned two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the "International Books of the Year and the Millennium" by the Times Literary Supplement.

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

What the Critics Say

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Paperback, 2003
  • Edgar Allan Poe Award Winner, Best First Novel by an American Author, 1998

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (2640 )
5 star
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Overall
4.0 (1159 )
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Story
4.2 (1157 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Simone Green Bay, WI, USA 08-18-07
    Simone Green Bay, WI, USA 08-18-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "All you could ask for"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wadie Santa Ana, CA, United States 11-01-08
    Wadie Santa Ana, CA, United States 11-01-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    240
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    176
    91
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    15
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    Overall
    "Starts slow"

    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!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Cedaredge, CO, USA 08-25-08
    Rebecca Cedaredge, CO, USA 08-25-08 Member Since 2006

    I read like a madwoman all my life but now I have bad eyes. Thank goodness for audio books

    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    28
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    FOLLOWING
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    Overall
    "Delightful, heartbreaking and funny."

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna NE Philly Philadelphia, PA United States 08-21-08
    Donna NE Philly Philadelphia, PA United States 08-21-08 Member Since 2013

    Donna

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
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    7
    2
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    0
    1
    Overall
    "I was in another land!"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig Raleigh, NC, USA 04-19-05
    Craig Raleigh, NC, USA 04-19-05 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    60
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    55
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "This is what audiobooks should be!"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A 04-09-14
    A 04-09-14 Member Since 2003

    Love to read. Mysteries, history, romance, biography, current events, science, classic fiction. No vampires. No zombies. No self-help. Find me on GoodReads and BookLikes.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    287
    ratings
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    177
    54
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    8
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "The perfect series for the out-loud format"

    I can't believe that I haven't written a review of this book!! I've ready the whole series already. I love Mma. Ramotswe. I love how she takes me to quieter and more gentle place. I was hooked the minute I started listening.

    Here's what I say. This is one series of books that is absolutely brought to life when read out loud by Lisette Lecat. If I were to read this book in print, the voices would all have my distinctly 'American television' sound and, in spite of being set in Botswana, there would be no feel of Botswana in the read. If you have picked up the books and put them down unimpressed, try listening to them. You will have a completely different experience when you listen to them.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sundae 07-09-07
    Sundae 07-09-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    1
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    0
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    "Love It!!!"

    I couldn't stop listening and then I kept finding myself getting REALLY into it. It's refreshing to have a book like this one and I can't wait to get the others!!!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    heather ottawa, ON, Canada 07-02-06
    heather ottawa, ON, Canada 07-02-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    16
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
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    Overall
    "an understated gem"

    This is a strange detective story ! Reminds me somewhat of the Anansi stories or even Out of Africa at times. It is much deeper than it's surface story lets on. It seems to say more about being African than being a lady detective. I loved the reader's voice. Her accent is perfect. The book is a bit peculiar because as you begin listening, you believe you have stepped directly into the detective tales... but then the story detours, for what seems slightly too long a time, through the main character's life story. I couldn't quite figure out what the author's purpose was UNTIL he started into the detective stories again. Then it all became clear how important this characterization is to the understanding of Mma Remotswe's modus operandus (are my cases correct?). The book was enlightening, enjoyable and very different from much of today's Too Cool School of writing.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linnea Crystal Lake, IL, USA 01-28-06
    Linnea Crystal Lake, IL, USA 01-28-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    0
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    "Can't wait to read more in the series!"

    Loved the story, loved the setting, loved the characters! The narration is wonderful and authentic. I've learned much about the Botswana area (but now, I'm curious to learn more!) I was sorry when the story ended and I look forward to downloading the sequel!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles L. Roberts Salt Lake City 01-18-06
    Charles L. Roberts Salt Lake City 01-18-06 Member Since 2001

    chasman

    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    48
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
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    Overall
    "I'm hooked!"

    What's captivating about this book is not the detective work being done, but the insight into everyday life. The book is sprinkled with little jewels -- "the friends from our youth are the best of all." Despite its setting in another culture, this book reminds us that there is a common denominator to the human experience. I found the book enriching and can't wait to finish the series.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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