Book 1 in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series
Genre: Mystery, Series, Audiobook
Source: Borrowed the Audiobook from Library
Working in a mystery tradition that will cause genre aficionados to think of such classic sleuths as Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner or Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee, Alexander McCall Smith creates an African detective, Precious Ramotswe, who's their full-fledged heir.
It's the detective as folk hero, solving crimes through an innate, self-possessed wisdom that, combined with an understanding of human nature, invariably penetrates into the heart of a puzzle. If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in Botswana--and decided to go against any conventional notion of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father's cattle to set up a Ladies' Detective Agency--then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country's first female detective.
One of the most interesting things about this book is that you learn so much about African culture and the beauty of the nature. Africa doesn’t usually end up in best selling fiction very often. I found myself engrossed in learning about the country of Botswana (I can name three cities, the capital, the border countries, major industry, and some basic history of the country). I also think this book is very much about the empowerment of women. Mma Ramotswe opens her own company in a male dominated world with a lot of pressure on her. She is able to solve mysteries others can’t, run her business, and still have a personal life at the same time.
I found myself very interested in all of the characters in the book. It took me awhile to remember all of their names – and how to pronounce them – but they were very well written, well rounded characters. While the early part of the story was a little slow going – I very much enjoyed the book. I found myself looking for the other audio books in the series at the library when I returned it (I think Tears of the Giraffe will be the next audio book I get, if it is there).
I would recommend this to anyone interested in some light mysteries (nothing like the James Patterson type mysteries, more local grown mysteries) as well as learning about the beautiful, rich, African culture.
As I was listening, I decided that it was a very good decision to choose this on audio book – I would have found myself too hung up on the pronunciation otherwise. The narrator is a native South African woman whose speech pattern lent itself perfectly to making the experience very real and almost palpable.
If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Also by Alexander McCall Smith:
Alexander McCall Smith has written many, many novels. Among those in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series are:
Tears of the Giraffe (book 2)
Morality for Beautiful Girls (book 3)
The Kalahari Typing School for Men (book 4)
The Full Cupboard of Life (book 5)
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (book 6)
Blue Shoes and Happiness (book 7)
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (book 8)
The Miracle at Speedy Motors (book 9)
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (book 10)
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