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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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings


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  • Overall

Charming, wonderful

I have read and listened to all of the books in this series and met the author-that's how much I have enjoyed them. They are charming stories that transport you to the everyday life of the people of Botswanna. Fantastic for children and adults alike. Great voice on the narrator.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kathy
  • San Jose, CA, USA
  • 05-30-08


I found this book to be a delightful listen. The narrator's lovely African accent and pronunciation brings life and authenticity to the interesting and fun characters.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Susan
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 05-27-08

Even better than reading the book...

The reader really makes this story come alive. Some of the names of people and places are difficult to know how to pronounce when you're reading the book and it was great to hear them read correctly. I found this as enjoyable as reading the book -- possibly more.

  • Overall
  • Jo
  • wappingers falls, NY, USA
  • 08-17-06


loved it. an entertaining book for listening while on road trips. definetly will read other books by this author.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • cypress, TX, USA
  • 08-14-06

Too simple

The case work by the detective was just too simple to find interesting.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Laura
  • Chicago, IL, USA
  • 05-10-06

I know I'm in a minority

I actually did not enjoy the narration. I found it, at times, slow and a little over drawn-out. The book itself was entertaining enough but I found that I did not really like Mme. Ramotswe (I apologize for my spelling as I never saw the name in print). I found her presumptuous, arrogant, prejudice and ...well, a little insufferable. This, honestly, is more of a review of the character than the writing or story - both of which are enjoyable. I just did not enjoy it quite as much as I expected.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cindy
  • Leesburg, FL, USA
  • 04-11-06

Wonderful Surprise!

This book was not at all what I expected, but I couldn't put it down! It was delightful, colorful and full of wonderful characters. The writing was lovely and the narrator did such I good job I could have listened forever! I really liked her down-to-earth approach to solving mysteries; sometimes surprising in their simplicity. Don't miss this book!

  • Overall
  • Angie
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 03-07-06

Loved this book

This was a wonderful listen. The narrator is simply charming and adds so much to the story and the characters. One of the best I have heard! The story is engaging and by the end of the book I couldn't help but like the characters and want to read book two!

  • Overall

A Wonderful Story

Though not the "traditional" detective story, I loved this novel. The characters, setting, and plots are rich and engrossing. The narrator is skilled in every accent she performs.

I highly recommend downloading this onto your mp3 player, and letting it take you away during the mundane work hours. You will be all the better for it.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Marge
  • United States
  • 12-16-05

This was a real Gem!

I did not expect such a fun listen. The story is very cute and different for me since it was set in Botswana and the narrator is fantastic. I love mysteries and detective stories already, but to have this one in a fun new local and by a woman in Africa was an extra treat. I could not wait to read some of the others in this series, they are all terrific.