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About Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful 'No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency' series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.
In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' – a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La’s Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.
Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.
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“McCall Smith is a master .... There’s beauty and revelation of one kind or another woven expertly into every line.” —The Christian Science Monitor
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni attends a course hosted by the local chamber of commerce entitled “Where Is Your Business Going?” But rather than feeling energized, he comes back in low spirits, unsure how to grow the already venerable and successful Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Then an old friend from school approaches him about a new business venture that could be just the ticket. When it turns out he will need to mortgage his property in order to pursue this endeavor, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi wonder what this will mean for his current business—as well as their own.
Even as she puzzles over mysteries on the domestic front, Mma Ramotswe’s professional duties must take precedence. When a concerned son learns that his aging father’s nurse now stands to inherit the family home, he begins to doubt her intentions and takes his case to Botswana’s premier detective agency. Fortunately, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are committed agents of justice and agree to investigate.
Tricky as these matters may be, Mma Ramotswe knows that the most creative solutions are often found with the support of loving friends and family. Working together over a cup of red bush tea, she and Mma Makutsi will rely on their tact, humor, and goodwill to ensure that all involved find the happiness that they deserve.
Precious Ramotswe loves her dependable old van. Yes, it sometimes takes a bit longer to get going now, and it has developed some quirks over the years, but it has always gotten the job done. This time, though, the world—and Charlie—may be asking too much of it, for when he borrows the beloved vehicle, he returns it damaged. And, to make matters worse, the interior seems to have acquired an earthy smell that even Precious can’t identify.
But the olfactory issue is not the only mystery that needs solving. Mma Ramotswe is confronted by a distant relative, Blessing, who asks for help with an ailing cousin. The help requested is of a distinctly pecuniary nature, which makes both Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and Mma Makutsi suspicious. And there is no peace at home, either, as the new neighbors are airing their marital grievances rather loudly. Still, Mma Ramotswe is confident that the solutions to all of these difficulties are there to be discovered—as long as she is led by kindness, grace, and logic and can rely on the counsel of her friends and loved ones.
Detective Ulf Varg is a man of refined tastes and quite familiar with the art scene in Malmö. So when art historian Anders Kindgren visits the Department of Sensitive Crimes to report a series of bizarre acts that have been committed against him, Ulf and his team swing into action. Fish stuffed into the vents of Kindgren’s car and a manipulated footnote in a recent publication would be cause enough for an investigation, but when a painting Kindgren had confidently appraised as genuine is later declared to be a fake, it’s clear that someone is out to tarnish his reputation.
Meanwhile, Ulf is also weathering personal issues, which quickly spiral out of control. When his lip-reading dog, Martin, engages in a contretemps with a squirrel that results in a grievous wound, Ulf must rush Martin to the veterinarian and weigh the merits of cosmetic surgery for animals. And later, when Martin’s blood is found in the back of Ulf’s classic Saab, Ulf finds himself the subject of a departmental investigation.
In the end, Ulf will have to muster all his detective skills and bureaucratic cunning to restore Kindgren’s reputation—as well as his own.
Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency received two Booker Judges’ Special Recommendations and was voted one of the International Books of the Year and the Millennium by the Times Literary Supplement.
These are their stories.
The first case: the small matter of a man stabbed in the back of the knee. Who would perpetrate such a crime and why? Next: a young woman's imaginary boyfriend goes missing. But how on earth do you search for someone who doesn't exist? And in the final investigation: eerie secrets that are revealed under a full moon may not seem so supernatural in the light of day. No case is too unusual, too complicated, or too, well insignificant for this squad to solve.
The team: Ulf “the Wolf” Varg, the top dog, thoughtful and diligent; Anna Bengsdotter, who's in love with Varg's car (and possibly Varg too); Carl Holgersson, who likes nothing more than filling out paperwork; and Erik Nykvist, who is deeply committed to fly fishing.
With the help of a rather verbose local police officer, this crack team gets to the bottom of cases other detectives can't or won't bother to handle. Equal parts hilarious and heartening, The Department of Sensitive Crimes is a tour de farce from a true master.
Mma Ramotswe has reconnected with an old friend who has been having problems with her daughter. Though Precious feels compelled to lend a hand, she discovers that getting involved in family affairs is always a delicate affair. The young woman appears to be involved with a charismatic preacher. But are his ministrations entirely of a godly nature?
Elsewhere, Charlie is also struggling with a tricky matter of the heart. He wishes to propose to his girlfriend, Queenie-Queenie, but he's struggling to come up with a bride price that will impress her father. When Queenie-Queenie's brother offers to help by giving him a job, the offer may not be quite what Charlie expected.
As always, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni will offer wise counsel, Mma Makutsi will weigh in with her opinions, and Mma Potokwane will be there with her welcome fruit cake. But in the end it will be up to Mma Ramotswe to reflect on love, family, and the nature of men and women in order to resolve family dramas and remind everyone about all the good things they have in life—so many, in fact, that it would take far too long to count them.
For the residents of 44 Scotland Street, life in Edinburgh's intriguing New Town is a thing to be relished. After all, there are new faces to excite Domenica's anthropological imagination, precious moments with his triplets for Matthew to savor, and the prospect of a trip to the promised land of Glasgow for young Bertie.
But there are mysteries that need solving too. Could Angus Lordie's dog, Cyril--the only dog in Scotland with a gold tooth--have unearthed a Neanderthal skull? Does the long-suffering Stuart have any hope of kindling a new relationship when Bruce, ever the navel gazer and consummate seducer, effortlessly steps into his pas de deux? And how will the patrons of Big Lou's cafe react to the menu's imminent culinary transformation?
The stories of this wonderfully vibrant cast may take unexpected turns, but the warmth and humor at Scotland's most recognizable address will ultimately affirm the joy life brings us all.
When Mma Potokwane suggests to Mma Ramotswe that she run for a seat on the Gaborone City Council, Mma Ramotswe is at first reluctant. But when she learns that developers plan to build the flashy Big Fun Hotel next to a graveyard, she allows herself to be persuaded. Her opponent is none other than Mma Makutsi’s old nemesis, Violet Sephotho, who is in the pocket of the hotel developers. Although Violet is intent on using every trick in the book to secure her election, Mma Ramotswe refuses to guarantee anything beyond what she can deliver; hence her slogan: “I can’t promise anything—but I shall do my best.”
Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has acquired a new client: one of her late father’s old friends, who was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Charlie volunteers to be the lead investigator in the case to prove he’s ready to be more than an apprentice, as well as to impress a new girlfriend. With Charlie’s inquiries landing him in hot water and Election Day fast approaching, Mma Ramotswe will have to call upon her good humor and generosity of spirit to help the community navigate these thorny issues, and to prove that honesty and compassion will always carry the day.
The Department of Sensitive Crimes, renowned for taking on the most obscure and irrelevant cases is always prepared to dive into an investigation, no matter how complex. So when the girlfriend of an infamous author who insists her bad-boy beau is being blackmailed approaches Ulf Varg, the department’s lead detective, Ulf is determined to help. It’s rather difficult to determine what skeletons hide in the hard-living lothario’s closet, though. And while Swedes are notoriously tolerant . . . well, there are limits. Even for the Swedish.
The case requires Ulf’s total concentration, but he finds himself distracted by his ongoing attraction to his co-worker, Anna, whose own fears about her husband’s fidelity are causing a strain on her marriage. When Ulf is also tasked with looking into a group of dealers exporting wolves that seem more canis familiaris than canis lupus, it will require all of his team’s investigative instincts and dogged persistence to put these matters to bed.
Precious Ramotswe is the eminently sensible and cunning proprietor of the only ladies’ detective agency in Botswana. In Tears of the Giraffe she tracks a wayward wife, uncovers an unscrupulous maid, and searches for an American man who disappeared into the plains many years ago. In the midst of resolving uncertainties, pondering her impending marriage to a good, kind man, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, and the promotion of her talented secretary (a graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College, with a mark of 97 per cent), she also finds her family suddenly and unexpectedly increased by two.
In the microcosm of 44 Scotland Street, all of life’s richness is found in the glorious goings-on of its residents. There’s Domenica, whose anthropological training has honed her observations of her neighbors; Matthew, whose growing triplets are more than a handful; Bruce, whose challenge as ever is thinking of anything but himself; and Big Lou, who may just have found her shot at romance. And of course, there’s young Bertie Pollock, whose starry-eyed explorations of Edinburgh’s New Town are a touching reminder that life itself is an adventure and there’s joy to be found wherever you choose to look.
Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are approached by their part-time colleague, Mr. Polopetsi, with a troubling story: a woman, accused of being rude to a valued customer, has been wrongly dismissed from her job at an office furniture store. Never one to let an act of injustice go unanswered, Mma Ramotswe begins to investigate, but soon discovers unexpected information that causes her to reluctantly change her views about the case.
Other surprises await our intrepid proprietress in the course of her inquiries. Mma Ramotswe is puzzled when she happens to hear of a local nurse named Mingie Ramotswe. She thought she knew everybody by the name of Ramotswe, and that they were all related. Who is this mystery lady? Then, she is alerted by Mma Potokwani that an unpleasant figure from her past has recently been spotted in town. Mma Ramotswe does her best to avoid the man, but it seems that he may have returned to Botswana specifically to seek her out. What could he want from her?
With the generosity and good humor that guide all her endeavors, Mma Ramotswe will untangle these questions for herself and for her loved ones, ultimately bringing to light important truths about friendship and family—both the one you’re born with and the one you choose.