Monday, April 21, 2008

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith

Mass Market Paperback: 235 pages
Publisher: Ancor
First Released: 1998

Source: Library

Back Cover Blurb:
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.

This book is not a typical "who murdered him/her" mystery. The first few chapters focus mainly on the heroine, how her agency got set up, and a bit about her country. The book then focuses on the local-flavor of crimes she solves by mainly using her wits. If you're a person who likes to learn about different cultures, then this is an entertaining way to do so. If you like straight who-do-its, then this book (or, at least, the first few chapters of the book) may have less appeal for you.

There are no explicit sex scenes or cussing. I'd rate this as "good, clean fun."

Excerpt: Chapter One
Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. These were its assets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a telephone, and an old typewriter. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe--the only lady private detective in Botswana--brewed redbush tea. And thee mugs--one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need? Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course.

But there was also the view, which again could appear on no inventory. How could any such list describe what one saw when one looked out from Mma Ramotswe's door? To the front, an acacia tree, the thorn tree which dots the wide edges of the Kalahari; the great white thorns, a warning; the olive-grey leaves, by contrast, so delicate. In its branches, in the late afternoon or in the cool of the early morning, one might see a Go-Away Bird, or hear it, rather. And beyond the acacia, over the dusty road, the roofs of the town under a cover of trees and scrub bush; on the horizon, in a blue shimmer of heat, the hills, like improbable, overgrown termite mounds.

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