Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Genre: Crime Fiction
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is the first book of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. This is a delightful work which revolves around the central character Precious Ramotswe, an intelligent, middle aged African woman of traditional build. She starts the first detective agency of Botswana and unravels mysteries as the sole detective of the agency.
The mysteries Mma Ramotswe solves are interspersed with tit bits from her past life- her early life, her father Obed Ramotswe, her unhappy marriage with Note Makoti and subsequent divorce. Mma Ramotswe is not the one to be let down by the challenges thrown at her by life. She uses the inheritance left by her father to buy a house at Zebra Drive and starting her own detective agency in Gaborone- the first one in Botswana. With her sincere and hardworking assistant Mma Makutsi, she sets out on the trail of a missing child.
Mma Ramotswe is not your conventional detective. But with her warmth, wit and intuition, she wins the readers. The book’s appeal lies in its characters: be it Mma Ramotswe, her assistant Mma Makutsi or Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, the proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. I was enchanted by Precious Ramotswe who is delightfully different from any of the detectives I have ever read about.
The book is set in Botswana which sets it apart from the rest. The ones looking for a glimpse into African way of life should check this out. The author has beautifully described the simple life of Botswana and how it has evolved over the years. Striking a balance between modernity and rural simplicity, Mma Ramotswe carves a beautiful life for herself leaving the painful memories of the past behind.
This is not one of the usual detective novels. There are no murders or hardcore crimes. Some of the mysteries are quite predictable and the way Mma Ramotswe dealt with them may seem quite amateurish. The book may seem slow paced but is in accordance with the slow, relaxed way of life in Botswana.
The author has told the story in a simple language with delightful ‘slice of life’ narratives of Botswana. One can almost feel that it’s being told by a story teller around a campfire. A refreshing change with such unalloyed reading pleasure!!!
P.S.- I have already bought four books in the series and have completed another one. So you can imagine how highly recommended the book is!
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