RATINGS (For book 1):
(The average rating according to Goodreads for all books is: XXXXX)
(Taken from Goodreads)
The No.1 ladies’ detective agency consists of one woman, the engaging and sassy Precious Ramotswe, who sets up shop in Gaborone, Botswana. This unlikely heroine specializes in missing husbands, wayward daughters, con men and impostors.
I find this series (yes, find; I have not yet finished reading the series) very restful, soothing and unique. They were written by Alexander McCall Smith, an African-born Scottish author of a number of books, including children’s books.
Book one of this series (which just happens to be titled The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency) was published in 1999 and book 16 came out just this year. It is a series of episodic novels following 35 year-old Precious Ramotswe, the sole detective of the agency whose name, as you have probably figured out, is the title of the series and is based in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana.
Reading this book with the belief that this is a mystery will lead to disappointment. Especially if you believe it is like the other mystery novels around: it is what is actually known as anthropological detective fiction. Which means, simply put, that in this story, the culture of the characters plays a major role in the story. The cases rarely involve the kind of crime readers of detective fiction are accustomed to: the sensational kind, full of melodrama, violence and crime. As the overview above shows, she mainly deals with missing husbands, wayward daughters, con men and impostors, with each book picking up where the previous one left off.
Now just because of this, do not assume this is a book for only middle-aged women: the morals drawn from this story are for all ages (just as all morals are, I think). From some (okay, a number) of books, a person can be led to believe that life in Africa is miserable for all. These books bring out the bright side of things – of humanity. As a result, a reader, no matter age and background will find this a captivating, soothing and satisfying read.
Because of how unique the books are, a number of people have compared the main character Mma Precious Ramotswe to Melville Davisson Post’s Uncle Abner and Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee, considering Mma Ramotswe an heir to these worthies.
HBO has actually started a series inspired by these books, featuring Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe and Anika Noni Rose (Kainene in Half of A Yellow A Sun) as Grace Makutsi.
If you are waiting for a list of links to books like this, you will be disappointed. At least, I won’t provide it. I mean, there are, what, 16 books in this series? And we are not even sure if Alexander McCall Smith is done with the adventures of Mma Precious Ramotswe. Besides, I am such a fan of this series, that I feel comparing others to his style of writing is a faux pas. But, I will give you a link to a detailed list of No.1 Ladies’ detective agency books and collections:
AFRICAN NOVELS REVIEWS