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In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 6) Hardcover – April 19, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 427 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this sixth entry in McCall Smith's consistently delightful series, Botswana detective Precious Ramotswe, the traditionally built—and newly married—owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, is saddled with a surfeit of challenging cases and personal crises. There has been an intruder in her home (he managed to escape, but left a telltale pair of trousers in his wake). And the levelheaded sleuth is flustered by an encounter with a man from her past. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe's husband, master mechanic Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, is neck-deep in work after the resignation of one of his apprentices, who has become romantically entangled with a married woman (Mma Ramotswe and assistant detective Grace Makutsi slyly gather the scurrilous details). Scotsman McCall Smith, who was born in what is now Zimbabwe, renders colorful characters with names that trip off the tongue. Among the new arrivals: Mma Makutsi's new suitor and dance partner, Phuti Radiphuti, a stuttering furniture salesman with two left feet; and Mr. Polopetsi, a wrongfully imprisoned pharmacist Mma Ramotswe deems worthy of a second chance. As always, when troubles are brewing, nothing puts things in perspective like time spent on the verandah with a cup of bush tea. Amid the hilarious scenarios and quiet revelations are luminous descriptions of Botswana, land of wide-open spaces and endless blue skies. The prolific McCall Smith dispenses tales from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency at a rate of one per year (he's also author of a second detective series featuring Scottish-American moral philosopher Isabel Dalhousie). That's good news for loyal fans, who eagerly await new adventures with Precious Ramotswe.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This sixth entry in the series does not disappoint. But this time, Mma Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana, and now married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, is filled with worry over personal problems. At the same time, her assistant, Mma Makutsi, is preoccupied with finding a husband, and it appears that Charlie, the apprentice at the auto shop, has run off with an older woman. Large cups of bush tea remain the main source of relief for thirst and for solving mysteries. Among the new characters is Mr. Polopetsi, hired to work at Tlokweng Road after Mma Ramotswe knocks him off his bicycle with her tiny white van. Although the agency takes on some criminal cases, most of the plot revolves around the everyday dilemmas of life. For Mma Ramotswe, the right course of action is always the moral one, usually reached with much reflection and humor. Good reading, sound reasoning, cheerful and faithful friends, and descriptions of the much-loved landscape of Botswana make this an appealing novel.–Sheila Janega, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (April 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375422714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375422713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (427 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #758,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mma Precious Ramotswe, warm-hearted proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana, is drinking tea at an outdoor café when she witnesses the theft of a bracelet. In her haste to apprehend the female thief and return the bracelet to the poor vendor, she leaves her table without paying her bill. The waitress hurries after her, accuses her of intentionally neglecting her bill, and then offers to "forget" about it if Mma pays her an extortionate fee.

Distressed by what she sees as the loss of Botswana's traditional values, Mma Ramotswe believes fervently in setting a good example, respecting others and promoting friendships in her own life. Recently married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekone, proprietor of the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mma Ramotswe runs her detective agency (where she doles out homespun advice and often serves as a "mother confessor"), takes care of two orphaned children, mentors Mma Grace Makutsi, her assistant, and endeavors to get the two apprentices at her husband's garage to become responsible citizens. A special pleasure in this novel is the introduction of a wonderful, new character, Mr. Polopetsi, a man with a sad story who will undoubtedly be further developed in later novels.

Throughout the series, plots and subplots serve primarily as vehicles for character development and the exploration of cultural values. In this novel Mma Ramotswe has a deep secret, not shared even with her husband, and she is desperate to have it remain a secret. Her house is broken into, her car is stolen, and Note Makoti, her first husband, returns to Gabarone. Mysterious goings-on occur in Mr. J. L. B.
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Format: Hardcover
Business is booming for both the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, but the daily routine is about to be shattered by a series of strange and puzzling events, starting with an unpleasant encounter at Mma Ramotswe's favorite café, an unfortunate intruder at Zebra Drive, and a mysterious pumpkin.

The story does not focus entirely on the traditionally built Mma Ramotswe, but weaves in the experiences of the other characters in one of the most entertaining books of the series.

Mma Makutsi becomes much more self-confident, and in addition to running the Kalahari Typing School for Men, she puts on her best shoes and signs up for dance lessons, where she ends up being more teacher than pupil to her eager but clumsy dancing partner.

Charlie quits his job at the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors after a spat with Mma Makutsi, but is seen driving around with an older woman in a Mercedes Benz, and the plot thickens when the car turns into the driveway of Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni's former residence.

While following the Mercedes, Mma Ramotswe causes an accident, and this encounter leads to the introduction of an intriguing new character, Mr. Polopetsi, a man with some very useful talents and a troubled past.

But do not think for a minute that Mma Ramotswe gets off without more than her fair share of trouble. She is totally devastated when her ex-husband Note shows up demanding money, and she has to make the hardest decisions of her life while Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni watches and waits.

This one has more action, more intrigue and more humor than the others, and would be enjoyable reading for traditionally built women, people with 97% passing grades, and all the rest of us.

Amanda Richards, June 23, 2005
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Format: Hardcover
I think this is the best yet - what a shame American readers have had to wait until April to get this wonderful book. (Why can't US publishers bring it out the same time as those in the UK?)

Mme Ramotswe is married! (Or IS she - you will have to read to the middle of the novel to find out.... ) Not only that but Grace Makutsi finds love as well - and to find out THAT happy ending you really will have to read until the last chapter.

Many yuppies (do we still use that term?) love this book, and those in the series, because not much really happens - and that is the whole point! It is both hilariously funny as always, with very sharp observations of human life, and yet profoundly gentle throughout. Life is SLOW, and for many people in the fast lane, that is perfect reading. (And for people who live in the middle lane like me as well...) You can be wonderfully calm reading this book - the whole series is the perfect antidote to the manic life we live in the West, in the 21st century. Five cheers for Alexander McCall Smith!

In one scene, Grace Makutsi meets an odious young woman called Violet, who got only 50% the typing school (Grace, as we will recall, got 97%). But unlike Grace, Violet has all the best jobs and all the men after her - she has one fifteenth of Grace's character and ability, yet gets far because she is glamorous. Haven't we all been there - seeing far less talented people get ahead for reasons that are profoundly unfair? This is what is so good about the Ramotswe novels - they are superb morality tales, showing true values without in any way being preachy.

In short, give this book to all your friends - 10 copies at least! Let's see it go to No.1, which it richly deserves to do, and a good sight more than some so-called fiction out there these days.


Christopher Catherwood (author of CHURCHILL'S FOLLY: HOW WINSTON CHURCHILL CREATED MODERN IRAQ: Carroll and Graf, 2004)
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