The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Alexander McCall Smith’s series has been very popular, a long-running mystery series about a female detective. I didn’t know much about it, but decided to snag a copy at the library’s used book sale. After all, it was only 50 cents.

Precious Ramotswe has always had unusual abilities to remember details, and it comes in handy when she decides to open The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in her small town in Botswana. She’s off to a slow start, with only a few clients. But Precious is able to advise, as well as track down a few wayward husbands, uncover a few con men, and help the relationship between an over-protective father and his wayward daughter.

Mixed into the plain narrative of Precious’ early escapades is her history. The apple of her father’s eye, Precious did mostly everything right, except for her choice in husband. But through it all, Precious perseveres and makes a name for herself as a private detective. But she risks it all, up to and including her life, to solve the mystery of a disappeared boy who she’s certain was abducted by a witch doctor for nefarious reasons.

This first book in the series was a quick read. I’m not quite certain how I feel about the writing style. Not quite rambling, it’s written in a plain sort of style. Though written in third person, you can easily imagine you’re sitting in a room with this woman, listening to her tell the story of her detective agency, tangents and all.

I expected the book to focus on one case, but it was written in a more Sherlockian style, with a collection of cases quickly resolved through logic. I’d be interested to see if the other stories are similar, or if they are more focused on a single case.

McCall Smith’s series is different than most of the mysteries I read, but a nice change from the hardcore murder mysteries and thrillers I’ve mostly been reading (though I love those too, most of the time). While it may not exactly be my cup of tea (remains to be seen), I can see why it’s been a popular series.

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