The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Reviewed by Renée Bosman, Government Information Librarian
This engaging novel consists of vignettes about Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the only female-owned detective agency in Botswana. Part detective story, part ode to southern Africa, Mma Ramotswe's narrative weaves reminiscences about growing up in Africa with stories of her Miss Marple-style detective work, tracking down missing husbands, sneaky teenagers, and a kidnapped boy. Interspersed with these passages, Smith also explores themes such as colonialism and independence, traditions, and progress in southern Africa. His writing is deceptively simple and straightforward, yet beautiful, particularly the descriptions of the landscape and Mma Ramotswe's love for Africa. In Mma Ramotswe, Smith has created a charming character — honest, clever, and full of good old common sense, which serves her well in her chosen profession. Yet this book is not just for mystery readers; the solid writing, pleasing pace, and colorful characters make it a great choice for any reader. You may just fall in love with Mma Ramotswe and want to read more books in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.