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*****= An all-time favorite
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*****The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

by Alexander McCall Smith

Reviewed May 25, 2003.
Anchor Books (Random House), New York, 2002.  Originally published in Scotland, 1998.  235 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F MCC).
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #1, Mystery and Adventure

This book completely captivated me.  Precious Ramotswe inherited cattle from her father.  She sells the cattle and uses the money to start a detective agency.  Since it is the only detective agency in Botswana run by a lady, she calls it the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.”

The story is told simply and charmingly.  The cases are small, but important in people’s lives.  I didn’t know much about Botswana, and the window into that world makes the book all the more fascinating.  Most of all, the book is wonderful because of the character of Precious Ramotswe.  An early paragraph summarizes her well:

“She was a good detective, and a good woman.  A good woman in a good country, one might say.  She loved her country, Botswana, which is a place of peace, and she loved Africa, for all its trials.  I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, said Mma Ramotswe.  I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place.  They are my people, my brothers and sisters.  It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries in their lives.  That is what I am called to do.”

Mma Ramotswe’s solutions to her cases are clever and resourceful, and she does them to help people.  Crooks don’t expect a woman to get the better of them.  This is a nice book, fun to read and diverting.  I think I have a new favorite mystery writer in Alexander McCall Smith. 

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is a book I’m going to be recommending to everyone, with no reservations at all.

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Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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