My mom loves these books, so when I saw the first of the series at a book sale for fifty cents, I thought, “Why not?” My mom and I don’t often agree on books, but Mma Ramotswe’s no-nonsense clever detective work would be enough to win anyone over. I really enjoyed her bite-sized cases in Botswana and the way they brought out stories of Precious’s past relationships with her father and husband.
I am really impressed by Smith’s ability to write from a woman of color’s point of view. Mma Ramotswe is dignified in the wake of grief and trauma, and it is no surprise that she is so successful at her job. She wins people over when necessary and intimidates them into giving up information at other times.
Smith also tells a really poignant theme of the heights and depths of men. Some, like Precious’s father and Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, are gentle, caring, and supportive. Others, like her former husband and many of her clients, are abusive, violent, and selfish. It is a testament to Mma Ramotswe’s stength that she continues to rely on and trust in men after everything she has been through.
I don’t read many mystery novels, and The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is not ordinary mystery novel. I guess that’s why I liked it! Serious themes are dealt with–kidnappings, witchcraft, domestic violence–but the tone of the book is light. I loved the plot, my introduction to Botswana, and especially Mma Ramotswe. Perhaps I am last to this party, but if you too have missed out on this series, I suggest you check it out!
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 the 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 that of a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witch doctors.
Release Date: February 2003