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The Colours of All the Cattle

(No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #19)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  7,536 ratings  ·  1,030 reviews
Mma Ramotswe's friend will persuade her to stand for election to the City Council. 'We need women like her in politics,' Mma Potokwane says, 'instead of having the same old men every time . . .' To be elected, Mma Ramotswe must have a platform and some policies. She will have to canvas opinion. She will have to get Mma Makutsi's views. Her slogan is 'I can't promise anythi ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 6th 2018 by Little, Brown
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  7,536 ratings  ·  1,030 reviews

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Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What better way to spend a few hours on a rainy day than with Mma Ramotswe and her delightful friends.

There's lots happening in this nineteenth outing including Mma Ramotswe standing for a local election. Can she possibly win when she claims to be standing for nothing? Is honesty always the best policy? Charlie also has to deal with the subject of being honest and manages to land himself in all kinds of difficulties. Mma Makutsi gets herself into some trouble too, has her first row with her hus

3.5 stars

In this 19th book in the 'No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency' series, Mma Ramotswe runs for public office. The book can be read as a standalone, but familiarity with the characters is advantageous.


Mma Ramotswe, owner of the 'No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency' in Gaborone, Botswana has a good mind, a generous heart, and strong sense of right and wrong. Thus Mma Ramotswe is against the plan to build a hostelry called 'The Big Fun Hotel' right next to the town's cemetery.

After all, people who
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“There were some people cut out for politics, but she was sure she was not one of them. She believed in reconciliation and compromise; politicians seemed to believe only in the routing of their opponents. That was not the way she saw the world. It was not the way her father, the late Obed Ramotswe, had seen it either. It was not the way, she was sure, that the ancestors had viewed things. It was not the Botswana way.”

The Colours of All The Cattle is the nineteenth book in the popular No 1 Ladie
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the humanity of this series, the gentleness, the forgiveness and the humor. We get to see our characters develop and their relationships evolve with each volume. The setting adds delight also. Favorite quotes include:
"They (late people) were with us in the love that they had shown us, and which we could still draw about us, like a comforting blanket on a cold night," which made me feel warm and nostalgic for people who have past from my life.

"The tea break - that still moment, that unchan
L.A. Starks
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like all in this series, The Colors of All The Cattle goes down like a warm cup of bush tea. Surely Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series has improved and increased travel to Botswana.

Readers will continue to enjoy the wise, kind ruminations of Precious Ramotswe and the interactions of the other characters. Similar to Hemingway, Alexander McCall Smith is able to coax a moving, interesting story about a very different culture from a quiet economy of words and actions. Different from Heming
Susan Johnson
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When your soul needs uplifting you can not go wrong with a dose of Mma Ramotswe in Botswana. I love this series and the traditionally sized ladies detective whose simple decency and kindness shines throughout the book. Her absolute belief in people and her love of her county just fill my heart.

In this newest installment, Mma Ramotswe is talked into running for city council to stop the development of a hotel. She is reluctant and has a refreshing campaign of simply promising to do her best. The
Precious Ramotswe of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is talked into running for a seat on the Gaborone City Council by Mma Ptokwane. Charlie seems to be maturing at last and becomes the lead investigator to discover the driver of a hit-and-run accident. This is the 19th offering in the No.1 Ladies’ Detective series and it is definitely showing its age. But, it is always fun to get reacquainted with the key characters. Enjoy!
This rating is perhaps unfair. This is the only book I’ve read from this series and it’s a newer book. I found the characters annoying and the mystery weak. I’m sure if I’d already loved them, I might feel differently. There is a series I love that others find the main character annoying, but I love her. If I ever have an occasion to read another book in the series, I may amend my review.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 19th book in the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. I always enjoy reading about the latest adventures of Mma Precious Ramotswe. Smith portrays a kinder, gentler world than the one I live in. Smith is the master of a subtle wit and humor. Mma Ramotswe muses over a gentle philosophy about the world and Botswana. Smith’s feelings about Botswana come through in the story.

In this story Mma Ramotswe is running against Mma Violet Sepotho for city council. The case being worked on
Diane Barnes
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#19 in this series, and as usual, what I need when I need it. Gentle people, simple story, a positive outlook on human nature.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 19th book in the series and I have read each one with pleasure. The writing is infused with wit and wisdom and a gentle philosophy which deals with the strengths and frailties of human nature and ways in which goodness, kindness, and honesty can prevail.

Reading these books is like an enjoyable, relaxing visit with old friends in Alexander McCall Smith’s beloved Botswana. If one believes from the title that this is a mystery story involving high crimes and frantic action, these stor
For all the reasons I said previously that regretfully, I’m over this I really am over this series.

I didn’t finish this one. The authorial voice has gradually changed (I re-listened to the whole series this year to confirm this), and has become grating rather than charming to my ear.

Then, this story itself never captured me.

Moreover, as I listen to this series in audio at least as much for the marvelous narrator as for the stories, this time my actual ear couldn’t continue. It’s
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-series
You know a series may have run its course when you start to find once enjoyable characters super annoying.

In The Colors of All the Cattle, Precious Ramotswe is cajoled into running for city council while investigating the person responsible for a hit-and-run accident, injuring a long-time friend of her deceased father.

I am still a fan of Mma Ramotswe and the beautiful, peaceful descriptions of Botswana but where I once found Mma Makutsi quirky, I find her judgmental and condescending.

I admir
Gaby Meares
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot pretend to be anything other than a McCall Smith tragic. I love his gentle take on life, and always feel refreshed on finishing one of his many novels.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is very close to my heart, and as this is the 19th instalment, all the characters are now like close friends.
The Colours of all the Cattle does not disappoint. It has all the essential ingredients to make an utterly wonderful escape to Botswana.
Mma Ramotswe is convinced by her friends to stand fo
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith gives us another absolute gem of a book. At this point in the series, the characters are as familiar and comfortable to the reader as a beloved old sweater. And yet, by having them experience personal growth and showing us new facets of their personalities, and of course providing new mysteries, McCall Smith keeps the book feeling fresh.

As in prior books, the plot shifts between characters, sometimes bringing side players to the front. This time, it is Charlie, the half-me
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is #19 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Once again a leisurely stroll in Botswana with all our favorite characters. This time in addition to the usual "problems to be solved" for her detective agency, Mma Ramotswe enters (actually is forcefully shoved by Mma Potokwane) the world of Gabarone politics, very, very far out of her comfort zone. At the same time, Charlie... Charlie is growing up. And Mma Makutsi's shoes have a few words to say once again.
I continue to enjoy this seri
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s always enjoyable to spend time with Mma Ramotswe and all of her friends in Botswana. Precious is coerced into running for town council, and her opponent is the evil Violet Sepotho. There’s an important case to be solved by the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, too—a hit-and-run of a beloved old doctor—and Charlie is looking for the culprit, with Mma Ramotswe’s gentle assistance. How many other authors are still writing at the top of their game by the 19th in a series? Fortunately, Alexander Mc ...more
Elite Group
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“There is no other lady quite like Precious Ramotswe in all of Botswana.”

“There is no other lady quite like Precious Ramotswe in all of Botswana.” It’s with these words uttered by Rra J L B Matekoni that we begin this the nineteenth book is this remarkable series.

Mma Precious Ramotswe, Mma Grace Makutsi, Charlie and Rra Polopetsi are all keeping reasonably busy with on-going cases at the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. That is until Mma Sylvia Potokwani decides that Mma Ramotswe should run as a c
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith touches on timely topics—politics, income inequality, and gender--in his latest Mma Ramotswe novel, "The Colors of All the Cattle." Precious and her partner in private detection, Mma Makutsi, continue to assist clients and, of course, enjoy their daily tea breaks. Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe's devoted husband and the owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, lovingly cares for his customers' automobiles as if they were human beings in intensive care. In addition, Mma R ...more
I think I expected a little more punch from this one, due to the subject matter, but I still really enjoyed this book, and Lisette Lecat's narration, as always.

I enjoy spending time with these characters, and it almost doesn't matter to me what happens. I love the subtle humor, and it was interesting to see someone who's been in the series from the beginning experience real growth in this volume.

AMS always manages to keep it fresh somehow, this time with Mma Ramotswe running for town council a
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another classic Mma Ramotswe tale, with the usual focus on universal issues, distilled to just a few characters in relatively small environments. Touching again on poverty, with heartbreaking sensitivity, I think the world would be a better place if everyone read this series. Recommended as always.

My rating strategy:

5 stars = An all time favourite, I could tell you about this 10 years later.

4 stars = Loved this, really gripping/fun/exciting, will remember long term.

3 stars = Definitely enjoyed,
Calgon take me away!! I've had a very stressful week but feel so calmed down after listening to this wonderful series by Alexander McCall Smith. This is only the second audio I've enjoyed thanks to a dear friend. This new book doesn’t disappoint. We are drawn into the different but engaging world of Botswana, Africa. The people demonstrate an old fashioned courtesy and warmth that we could only hope to have in our hectic world. I enjoyed how Charlie, the mechanic, seemed to come alive and mature ...more
Maya Gopalakrishnan
What better way to start the summer than with the aroma of the warm scorched earth, the bells of the cattle and sips of red bush tea. The latest in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series is another pure delight from Alexander McCall Smith. Mma Ramotswe is standing for councillor elections against non other than the vile Violet Sephotho. There's a hit and run case to be solved in which Charlie takes charge. There's Charlie's new girlfriend Queenie-Queenie whom you can't help liking. Mma Makutsi ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anytime I get to spend the day with Mme Ramotswe and the others is a good day. She and all the rest always bring a smile to my face. This latest book was no exception.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: botswana, humour, mystery
The Big Fun Hotel, to be built near a cemetary, is virulently opposed by many citizens. Mma Ramotswe is reluctantly pushed into standing for city council elections by Mma Potokwani, so that she could veto the building of the hotel. This means that Mma Ramotswe could not refuse, especially with Grace Makutsi supporting Mma Potokwani. After all, the only other contestant would have been Violet Sephotho. Violet is now the set villain of these series, and doesn't even have to make an appearance to d ...more
This series just keeps chugging along. It's nice visiting my old friends. There is more character development with Charlie. He is growing up! Mma Ramotswe reluctantly dips her toe in politics. Thinks unfold at the normal leisurely pace in Botswana.

I LOVE the audiobook format for this series.
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mma Precious Ramotswe began the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Botswana and. It is possibly the only detective agency in that region of Africa. With people in the small villages knowing just about everything about everyone else, her cases are usually non-violent and relatively easily and tenderly resolved.
When a well-loved doctor suffers severe injuries by a hit-and-run driver, she is asked by him and his daughter to locate the driver, no small task since there is no evidence pointing to a
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read every book in this series, but I think this is my absolute favorite one. It seems very appropriate for the times to have one of the story lines center on politics. Mma Ramotswe is running for a seat on the council and she decides to be her self - by being honest and kind. The other story lines (one about the apprentice Charlie and the other about a hit and run accident) are equally interesting. I feel like when I read these books, I am coming home to my friends. I can visualize where ...more
Martha Bullen
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am thankful to Alexander McCall Smith for the annual gift he gives his readers. Usually arriving in November, the latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series is exactly what I need this time of year.

When dark clouds, cold weather and holiday stress loom, his delightful books featuring Mma Ramotswe, her husband, Mr. JLB Matekoni, and her friends and colleagues in the detective agency are heartwarming reminders of the simple pleasures of life, the central importance of family,
Book nineteen and I have loved them all. It's impossible to believe that at this moment Mma Precious Ramotswe is not in Botswana dispensing her gentle wisdom. In the latest installment Mma uses her best persuasive skills to get a reluctant Mma Raotswe to run for a city council in order to stop a hotel from being built next to a graveyard. A second plot involves an old family friend asking for Mma Ramotswe help in solving a hit and run in which he was the victim.

The plot was not as compelling as
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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what ...more

Other books in the series

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1)
  • Tears of the Giraffe (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #2)
  • Morality for Beautiful Girls (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #3)
  • The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #4)
  • The Full Cupboard of Life (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #5)
  • In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #6)
  • Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #7)
  • The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #8)
  • The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #9)
  • Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #10)

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“There are some very inventive adults, Mma. When you listen to them, you have to divide everything they say by two, and then take away ten. As you have to do with some politicians.” 5 likes
“Tea, thought Mma Ramotswe – no matter what was happening, no matter how difficult things became, there was always the tea break – that still moment, that unchangeable ritual, that survived everything, made normal the abnormal, renewed one’s ability to cope with whatever the world laid before one. Tea.” 3 likes
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