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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Book 1) Paperback – February 6, 2003
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“The Miss Marple of Botswana.” The New York Times Book Review
“Smart and sassy...Precious’ progress is charted in passages that have the power to amuse or shock or touch the heart, sometimes all at once.” Los Angeles Times
“The author’s prose has the merits of simplicity, euphony and precision. His descriptions leave one as if standing in the Botswana landscape. This is art that conceals art. I haven’t read anything with such alloyed pleasure for a long time.” Anthony Daniels, The Sunday Telegraph
From the Inside Flap
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.
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I just saw a talk by Alexander McCall Smith at the Washington Library. It took place when Bush was in office. He spoke about "No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" at length and he took questions. I could listen to this man speak forever. I love his speaking voice and I love his laugh. He has a great laugh. I like a good laugh and he has a really good laugh. He is so cute and he has a great sense of humor. I would love to see him in person. I have so many questions for him. I have to look at his schedule to see when he will be in NYC. I'd like to see him. I don't know where this man gets the time to write all of these books, travel and teach at the University too. I am amazed by his energy.
Each of these books picks up and drops a single overall case, separating each phase of its solution with chapters dealing mostly with other cases that can be solved more quickly. Each case requires some ingenious thinking and a deep understanding of local culture and practices and, of course, of basic human nature. In spite of having to deal with darker events such as kidnapping, witchcraft, impersonation, philandering, insurance fraud and employee theft, there is something life-affirming about the heroine's approach to each case and in the way she stays 'centered' as a human being. Readers looking for a 'cozy' mystery series that is not set in England will very much enjoy this series!