Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #1) by Alexander McCall Smith: Book CoverFinished 8-11-10, rating 4/5, fiction/mystery, pub. 1998

She was a good detective, and a good woman.  A good woman in a good country, one might say.  She loved her country, Botswana, which is a place of peace, and she loved Africa, for all its trials.  I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, Mma Ramotswe.  I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place.  They are my people, my brothers and sisters.  It is my duty to help them solve the mysteries in their lives.  That is what I am called to do.

Chapter 1

When Precious Ramotswe loses her beloved father she gains independence in her inheritance.  She decides to open a detective agency in Botswana and becomes the only female private eye in the country.  At first she gets only a few small cases and has some mishaps that are both funny and endearing.  The cases get more involved and Precious shows her spunk and common sense.

This isn’t exactly what I expected, but I enjoyed it.  I thought it would be a mystery and while Precious did solve cases, none of them took too much time, so it didn’t feel like a typical mystery.  I really enjoyed the first part of the book as we got to know about her life and the wisdom she accumulated, but it did seem separate from the second half about her agency.  I liked Precious and the Botswana setting and can see why so many people enjoy these books.  Precious is the reason to read the book and has more appeal than the mystery aspect. Now I want to see the HBO movie based on the book.

This book is from my personal library and was chosen by Hannah, JoJo, Sharon, Alita, Bonnie, Sarah, Wendy.  Here’s what they had to say…

“A heart-warming novel about a lady’s detective agency established in Zimbabwe, the many adventures of its owner as she goes about her detective work, as well as wonderful characters in the village.”  Sarah

“Sweet mystery series based in South Africa. I love the characters and the mood of these books. A wonderful series.”  Bonnie

“Love it! I’ve read this whole series and loved every one. It is not an edge of your seat story, but pulls you along. You wish you could know this woman.”  Sharon

“Because it’s a fun, quick, uplifting read with a hint of mystery and a strong female lead. Plus, it’s set in Africa!”  Hannah

August 18, 2010 - Posted by | 4 Star Books |


  1. I started reading this and still haven’t finished it.

    Comment by pinkflipflops | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • It’s short – you can do it 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. I definitely agree, the mystery aspect is certainly secondary to Precious and even Botswana. Glad you enjoyed it, though!

    Comment by Word Lily | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • I did enjoy the life of Precious in Botswana. Thanks for recommending it!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  3. I’m glad you liked this one Stacy. I’ve been reading this series with my book club and I can’t wait tor read the next one this coming year! The HBO series was fun to watch and even my hubby enjoyed it.

    Comment by Jo-Jo | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • That’s good to know. Now I can guilt Jason into trying it 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  4. I am so behind on this series! I want to see the movie too.

    Comment by Nise' | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  5. One of my groups on Goodreads selected this to read for this month’s Africa theme. I personally thought it was an odd selection for a group discussion figuring it was lighter fare and didn’t read it myself. There has been quite a bit of back and forth though – and the series seems to be very popular.

    Comment by Bumble | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • It is much lighter than I expected. Given all of fans I was expecting it to have more depth. But as a light read it was great. Not sure about a book group pick though unless you were going to discuss more of the life in Africa which the book does a good job of describing.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. I really enjoyed this series for a while and then I got tired of it. The first book is delightful, though.

    Comment by bermudaonion | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • As much as I enjoyed this one I don’t plan on continuing with the series. There are too many other series that I adore!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  7. I really enjoyed this one too. Now to make time for the rest of the series!!! 😀

    Comment by Staci | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  8. I read a couple in this series, but just didn’t care enough to keep going. I do think the setting was fascinating.

    Comment by Carol | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t plan to continue with the series.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  9. Do watch the series. EXCELLENT! I particularly loved her assistant.

    Comment by CeeCee | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • I am looking forward to the series. The cast looks great!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  10. This was a charming book, but, like you said, not a straightforward “mystery.” It is more about atmosphere and character. I read a few of these and kind of petered out.

    Comment by Jenners | August 18, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m not feeling the need to read the rest of the series. The book was good and it was enough for me.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  11. There is a movie based on these books, I’m so watching it. I wanted to read the books too but how many books can you fit in one lifetime…

    Comment by VioletCrush | August 19, 2010 | Reply

  12. I liked the first couple of books but to be honest got bored quick. They are sweet books though and quick reads. I haven’t read one in ages though. I think as a stand alone book it was good but as a series it just gets boring.

    Comment by Caspette | August 19, 2010 | Reply

  13. I’ve been wanting to pick the first one up for ages now! Great review. I also want to check out the TV series.

    Comment by Heather | August 19, 2010 | Reply

  14. I have heard so many things about this book and series. Thank you for reminding me I haven’t read it yet!

    Very glad you enjoyed it. Now go watch that movie 🙂

    Comment by jennygirl | August 24, 2010 | Reply

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