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The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 4) Paperback – March 9, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The fourth appearance of Precious Ramotswe, protagonist of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and two sequels, is once again a charming account of the everyday challenges facing a female private detective in Botswana. In his usual unassuming style, McCall Smith takes up Ramotswe's story soon after the events described in Tears of the Giraffe. Precious and her fiance, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, still have not set a wedding date, but they continue to nurture the sibling orphans in their care, as well as the entrepreneurial ambitions of Precious's assistant, Mma Makutsi, who sets out to open a typing school for men. Along the way, Ramotswe handles a few cases and negotiates the arrival of a rival detective in Gaborone. The competition, a sexist detective who boasts of New York City street smarts, proves a delicious foil to his distaff counterpart. A moral component enters the story in the person of a successful engineer who wishes to atone for his past sins. He enlists Ramotswe to help him find the woman he has wronged, and this case comes to a satisfying yet hardly sentimental conclusion. But the real appeal of this slender novel is Ramotswe's solid common sense, a proficient blend of folk wisdom, experience and simple intelligence. She is a bit of a throwback to the days of courtesy and manners, and casts disapproving glances at the apprentices in her fiance's auto shop who obsess about girls instead of garage protocol. A dose of easy humor laces the pages, as McCall Smith throws in wry observations, effortlessly commenting on the vagaries his protagonist encounters as she negotiates Botswana bureaucracy. This is another graceful entry in a pleasingly modest and wise series.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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are really booming, so grab this next tale about the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (February 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140003180X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400031801
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Western writers usually enter Africa by way of a protagonist who belongs to their own culture (missionary, functionary, explorer, soldier, mail-order bride) and is venturing into unknown territory. So it is one of the mysteries --- and miracles --- of recent fiction that a Scotsman named Alexander McCall Smith should have created a character like Precious Ramotswe, the full-bodied, clear-headed, absolutely captivating investigator who inhabits all four of his Botswana novels: THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY, TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE, MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, and now, THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN.
Mma Ramotswe (in traditional Botswana culture, honorifics are always used; it seems rude not to do so in the review as well) has had a tough life: married to an abusive jazz musician, she loses her baby and then her beloved father. But she finds her vocation: she sets up the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and is soon attracting clients. She also acquires a fiancé, garage owner Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, two orphans, and a sidekick, Mma Makutsi, who received a grade of 97 percent on her exams at the Botswana Secretarial College. You don't have to be familiar with the first three books to follow the action in KALAHARI --- McCall Smith is careful to supply context for the first-time reader --- but I think it's better to discover them in order. Not only do you gradually develop a sense of Mma Ramotswe and her life on Zebra Drive (yep, that's the name of her street), but you also become deeply fond of Botswana (this is important since, to the average Westerner, Africa is still a "dark" --- that is, unknown --- continent). These wise, charming books leave you feeling washed clean and peaceful, with an expanded sense of humanity.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on January 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"The Kalahari Typing School for Men" continues the story of "lady detective" Precious Ramotswe, her fiance, Mr. J.L.B. Maketoni, and the assistant detective/secretary, Mma Makutsi.
McCall Smith is an outstanding writer, not bound by genre. His descriptions of the Botswana countryside are as evocative as any "nature" writer's, and his ability to create interesting, entertaining, and complex characters is unparalleled. Precious, Mr. Maketoni, and Mma Makutsi are so clearly drawn that you would know them instantly if you met them on the street. In "Kalahari," we particularly get to know the plain, bespectacled, but utterly self-reliant Mma Makutsi better, when she starts her own typing school.
My one caveat for series neophytes is that there is very little detecting going on in these books; in fact, McCall Smith appears to have given up clues, discovery, and the like entirely in favor of more character development.
But he's so very very good at it, you mustn't miss it!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By H. Row on July 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Alexander McCall Smith has written over 50 books from specialized works as The Criminal Law of Botswana, Forensic
Aspects of Sleep to Children's books. He currently is a Professor of Medical Law at Edinburgh University
The Kalahari Typing School For Men
Now that The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (UNTIL NOW, the only detective agency for ladies and others in Botswana) is established, its founder, Precious Ramotswe, can look upon her life with pride: she's reached her late thirties ("the finest age to be"), has a house, two children, a good fiancé -- Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni -- and many satisfied customers. But life is never without its problems. It turns out that her adopted son is responsible for the dead hoopoe bird in the garden; her assistant, Mma Makutsi, wants a husband and needs help with her idea to open the Kalahari Typing School for Men; yet Mma Ramotswe's sexist rival has no trouble opening his Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency across town. Will Precious Ramotswe's delightfully cunning and profoundly moral methods save the day? Follow the continuing story of Botswana's first lady detective in the irresistible "Kalahari Typing School for Men".
Readers who haven't yet discovered Mma Ramotswe will enjoy discovering how her quiet humor, understated observations on life, and resolutely intuitive approach to detection promise to put Botswana on the sleuthing map for good.
IF there is a downside to this excellent series of enchanting mysteries, it is that it takes several years after a books initial release overseas to appear in US publication. Readers who are hooked on the lovable characters, beautiful setting and imaginative plots will be glad to know that The Full Cupboard of Life (the 5th in the series, is to be published by Polygon UK May 2003).
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Fafa Demasio on May 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"I must remember, thought Mma. Ramotswe, how fortunate I am in this life; at every moment, but especially now, sitting on the verandah of my house in Zebra Drive, and looking up at the high sky of Botswana, so empty that the blue is almost white. Here she was then, Precious Ramotswe, owner of Botswana's only detective agency, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency-an agency which by and large had lived up to its initial promise to provide satisfaction for its clients, although some of them, it must be said, could never be satisfied. And here she was too, somewhere in her late thirties, which as far as she was concerned was the very finest age to be; here she was with the house in Zebra Drive and two orphan children, a boy and a girl, bringing life and chatter into the home. These were blessings with which anybody should be content. With these things in one's life, one might well say that nothing more was needed." (Page 1)
So begins Alexander McCall Smith's latest book, THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN. He has a wonderful African storytelling voice. Parts of the book are funny, sad, educational, and touching.
Mma. Ramotswe deals with real and moral problems. Although the troubles take place in Africa, they are universal and range from searching for people from the past, cheating spouses, looking for love, raising children, trying to improve one's financial status, trying to right a wrong, to dealing with competition, and more.
I enjoy the way Mma. Ramotswe solves her clients' problems as well as her own. There are no guns or high-speed chases. There is no fighting, cursing, or the likes. An element of danger and adventure exists in Mma. Ramotswe's work but the detective uses her wits and manners when dealing with others. The plot is always refreshing.
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