Book – The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Author – Alexander McCall Smith
Pages – 233
Year – 1998
Genre – Crime
Borrowed from Dartford Library
Mma Ramotswe is proud to be the owner of the first all female detective agency in the whole of Botswana. She has had a tricky life up until now, but upon the death of her beloved father, she takes all of the money that she raises from the sale of his cattle and uses it to establish herself in this exciting new field.
This book was absolutely nothing like what I expected. It is a crime book, but only in the loosest of senses. There is one case that runs throughout the whole book, but it is interspaced with several other cases of no relation. Add to this a lengthy section at the beginning of the book told from the point of view of her father, and you have a novel that is considerably more uncollected than most crime books I have read.
None of this is meant in any way as a negative however. Each case is fascinating in itself, and told with a real nod to the idea that these are generally everyday issues, even if Mma Ramotswe does not always approach them in an everyday manner. And Ramotswe herself is the real draw here, an incredibly likable character with a great combination of moral compass and hard nosed determination. Her pride in Botswana shines through and brings you into the setting in much the same way that it introduces new characters. It is incredibly easy to see why this novel spawned an entire series of books charting her life as a detective.
It is not the runaway success in my eyes that it was in the eyes of many upon release, but when you read the first book of a series and immediately think that you would like to peruse the rest of them, it has certainly left an imprint.