The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, #1)

By Alexander McCall Smith

Rating: 3 stars

Precious Ramotswe, known universal by the honorific Mme (which I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce) uses her inheritance to set up Botswana’s first private detective agency run by a woman. This book discusses some of her cases, her life and that of the country and continent that she calls home.

It’s certainly a very easy to read book, and the prose is smooth, self-assured and steady, very much like its protagonist. But there was something about the repeated motifs that came up again and again that I found slightly patronising. Mme Ramotswe is, despite her progressive career, a conservative character in a conservative country. She likes the old ways and is wary of progress. The author obviously loves Botswana, and writes lovingly about the Limpopo and the Kalahari as well as the people of the country but with that same wistfulness for times gone.

The cases that Mme Ramotswe takes on are often small things, cheating partners, stolen items, but kidnapping and murder also raise their ugly heads, to be dealt with like everything else, with a cup of strong redbush tea and the help of Mr J. L. B. Matekoni (who is always referred to in that way, he never gets a first name).

The book was nice and easy enough to read, but I have no urge whatsoever to read any of the sequels.

Book details

Publisher: Abacus
Year of publication: 1998

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