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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

(No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  231,317 ratings  ·  11,322 reviews
Precious Ramotswe has only just set up shop as Botswana's No.1 (and only) lady detective when she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. However, 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 witch doctors.
Paperback, 235 pages
Published February 6th 2003 by Anchor Books (first published 1998)
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June Freeman I have read all 15 books in the series and loved them all! It is hard to wait for the next one. You can't help but love all the characters.
Hannah Lulu I've read the first three so far. I don't think you have to read them in order to know what is happening, there will be spoilers, but nothing that tha…moreI've read the first three so far. I don't think you have to read them in order to know what is happening, there will be spoilers, but nothing that that would prohibit you from still enjoying the other books. Reading them in order seems like it would be much more enjoyable though since there is a chronology. (less)

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ebnewberry Newberry
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: ams, fiction
A lot of people are under the impression that Alexander Mccall Smith books are strictly for middle aged women. This is NOT the case at all. These books are for everyone. They are not even just for women. A lot of people are also under the impression that these books are mystery books. This is also a misconception. Mysteries are a very small part of these stories. These books are about humanity and the small things that make it so good to be both human and alive. I dare anyone who is not happy to ...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is where the series begins, there currently being twenty books in the series. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency is a delightful work and a quick read to boot. Smith alternates between small bits of back-story for the central character, Precious Ramotswe, a woman of traditional build, young-middle-aged (30s?) divorcee, heavy with intelligence, gumption and cunning, and the mysteries she unravels as the sole detective of the title agency.

Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe and Anika Noni Rose as
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I'm no fan of mystery, crime or detective books - the bore me, generally, though I loved Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher books in high school and Agatha Christie's Ten Little Niggers gave me chills (since renamed And Then There Were None, for obvious reasons - but I've got an old edition).

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a real gem, however. I absolutely loved it. Wise, funny, intelligent, insightful and blushing with vigour and a heartfelt love of Africa, I'm not in the least surprised this
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Just could not get past the very obvious fact that this book is written by a white guy, trying to tell a story through the eyes of a Botswana(ese?) woman. It felt a bit patronising, as in, look how simply these people live, just hanging out in the hot sun watching their cattle, oh to live so simply like this, oh look this woman is setting up a detective agency, can you imagine that, a woman? A black woman? How quaint and adorable, etc. etc. It was a cute story, but that was the problem, it was a ...more
Sep 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with 3-4 hrs to spare--doesn't care much for tv
I read about Africa & quickly want to be transported there. For a simpler life?

The heart of this novel is its feminist protagonist, Mma Ramotswe who lives in a precious town in Gaborone, still untouched by technology or South African cosmopolitanism. This book is extremely feminist, in a very good, positive and enlightening way, as much as it is anticolonialist.

But to counter this notion there is a heartwarming case that Mma Ramotswe, the number one (and sole) female detective in Botswana, must
Ahmad Sharabiani
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1), Alexander McCall Smith
Mma Ramotswe sits in her office, the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency. She has a secretary, and she has clients. She is in Gaborone the capital of Botswana, a place of which she is proud. She is the only child of Obed Ramotswe, a man who worked long years in the mines in South Africa, until one day he witnessed a crime, and knew he had to leave the mines. He had married a year or two earlier, and their
#mystrangereading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book came in my cousin book exchange and had also been gifted to be by my dad a couple of Christmases ago, so I really needed to read it. Lol.

🕵️🏾‍♀️I loved Precious (Mma). I loved how strong and independent she was. I loved how she went after her dreams and I loved her cases.

🕵️🏾‍♀️ I loved how the culture of Botswana was ever present in each story told because you would not expect that from a white man wri
ֆɦɛʟʟʏ ȶɦɛ քǟȶʀօռ ֆǟɨռȶ օʄ ƈʊʀʍʊɖɢɛօռʟʏ ƈʀօռɛֆ

I feel like I should post a bit of a disclaimer first: This is not a book I would have chosen for myself. I picked it as my last challenge ("read a book set in Africa") for the Saucy Wenches 2016 Reading Challenge.

That being said, this was a decent little story. It had a "cozy mystery" vibe. It wasn't complicated and a lot of the story in the beginning was backstory on Mma Ramotswe, the main character. I liked her. She is an unconventional leading lady - fat (we hear her described as such multi
When Precious Ramotswe’s father died and left her with his cattle, the sale made her quite wealthy. Her decision to open the first Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana – in fact the only detective agency – was an easy one. And of course, she had to have a secretary, even though she had no clients (as yet). She hired Grace Makutsi and together they enjoyed many cups of tea between the occasional case.

Mma Ramotswe was admired by many, but her intuition and stubborn desire to solve people’s problems
Aug 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-again
i am probably the only person in the whole world who thinks this but these books are singularly underwhelming. Nothing ever happens. The characters are annoying. To be honest I did only read this first one but couldn't face another. Have refrained from putting this on my list till now cos I always thought I might try another and find it more interesting but then I thought there are enormous caverns of books as yet undiscovered. Why force myself to read another book of this just because I feel I ...more
A new favourite! I know, I know. I’m late to Precious Ramotswe and her wonderful business, and I shouldn’t have waited so long to enjoy these books. I loved this first book in the series. Funny, good-natured, good-hearted and poignant.

How a white Scotsman got into the head of a black lady in Botswana (or vice versa) is beyond me, but thank goodness for us readers that he did. She is absolutely delightful. “Mma Ramotswe was not tall—being blessed with generous girth, rather than height…”

Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of mysteries and stories about Africa
This collection of vignettes disguised as a novel was a great read. The main character is a gentle African woman who decides to be a detective to help other people. She is a delightful character, with light humor and a big heart. Agency isn't like any other detective novels...the characters are much more developed and the "mysteries" aren't the usual murders, whether cosy or hard-boiled. If you'd like a sweet trip to another culture, calmer and gnetler than ours, this is a book for you.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Precious Ramotswe is a super nice woman, and the story told by the great McCall Smith is really fun, it was for me a perfect read after books with heavy narratives, violent and extreme, I needed to relax a bit and smile a lot 😉 , and so came Precious!
Precious’s presentation is very meticulous, I loved how the writer presents her life, not only her wonderful qualities and talents, but also her weaknesses and sorrows of the past ( wrecked marriage and a child in heaven)
Precious is well characteriz
Eric Bjerke
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Eric by: Deb Dooley
Shelves: fiction
I put off reading this series for a long time until I found out that it wasn't a book for "ladies," but one to be enjoyed by readers of both sexes--and enjoy it I did.

In its simple and conversational manner, this book taught me a little bit about many things: Botswana, African culture in general, working in the diamond mines of South Africa, and human nature. Through the first-person account of Precious Ramotswe we are treated to an assortment of quirky detective stories that are intertwined wi
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just wonderful! I wish I could meet the heroine in real life.

I see that many readers shelved this book under mysteries. I would say if you picked this book expecting a crime/mystery genre, you would be disappointed. Yes, the heroine solves mysteries as part of her business of being a private detective. But the mysteries are very small part of the story and they are not why I loved the book.

What really is wonderful is how these detective stories turn into little pieces full of fascinating descr
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it
If you have had a rough week, if your day has been hectic and you feel frazzled, I recommend sitting down with The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency for a while. I would describe the feeling of reading it to be “calming.” It is very unlike the North American or Scandinavian crime fiction genre.

I’ve never been to Botswana, but I felt like I had taken a mini-holiday there by the end of the book. And you get an insight into the people and their culture than you would never get as a tourist—a sense of h
"Women are the ones who knows what's going on," she said quietly . "They are the ones with eyes. Have you not heard of Agatha Christie?" I love Mma Ramotswe. She is funny, wonderful, brave, and unapologetically a feminist. Sure, she's made mistakes. Sure, she's done stupid things, but then again, that just gives her more character. Detective agencies rely on human intuition and intelligence, both of which Mma Ramotswe had in abundance. No inventory would ever include those, of course.

I w
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

This is my third time through AM Smith’s lovely launch of this series. I adore Mma Ramotswe, and Mma Makutsi and the entire cast of characters that appear throughout the 19 books that comprise (so far!) this enchanting group about Botswana and the further adventures of No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I enjoy the narrator of the audio format, Lesette Lecat, and look forward to each new book.

Precious Ramotswe is traditionally built, and here at the start of the s
Caro the Helmet Lady
This book was built on slow paced descriptions of African - Botswanian, to be precise - life and on the charismatic character of Mma Ramotswe, the first lady detective in Botswana. I didn't mind the slow pace, and I loved Precious Ramotswe.


Also, I didn't mind that some mysteries were rather predictable and there wasn't any crazy action with shooting and whatnot. I enjoyed the "slice of life" pictures of Africa a lot. The warm relationship between Precious and her father was truly touching.
Mar 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the ladies
Recommended to Lula by: mom
Shelves: novels
I listened to this book on CD! The woman reading it is awesome! And the African Music in the background sets the scene perfectly! This is the perfect, lighthearted book to listen to in the car. I drove around daydreaming that I was driving through the Kalihari! Loved it!
Jan 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Pleasant and somewhat interesting, but not compelling.

It's my impression that mystery novels are part puzzle and part vehicle for depicting a cross-section of life in some locale. The puzzle part in No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was never very elaborate. Most mysteries arose and resolved in the span of one chapter. In fact it seemed like the point was to showcase Precious' subtle knack for zeroing in and keeping things from being more complex than they need to be. Precious and her approach to s
I should have paid more attention to the reviewer who said that this is not a mystery. It's not. And that's what I was after. This is a collection of tales about people and their problems. The main character solves their problems in unconventional ways, and so maintains a private detective agency.

It is told in simplistic language, distancing me from the stories, which are rambling and random. There is little cohesion to the plot. It's a more realistic ebb and flow of lives that cross each other
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this introductory novel, I fell in love with Precious -- and never looked back. I gobbled all the books in the series, and the only thing left is to list them all here on goodreads in my "already done that" list. Not that I don't go back to them again and again, when I want some good laughs, some good old fashioned "comfort reading". Once again, my daughter hit it out of the ball park when she recommended these books to me all those years ago. It was another overnighter: staying in the big ci ...more
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a refreshing change to read the great little Botswanian mysteries that unfold, as the wonderfully strong and fiercely independent Precious Ramotswe sets up her agency. I will be reading the rest of this series for sure and I must learn how to cook chicken with pumpkin!

"She stopped. It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin.
Danita Brown
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I remember watching the tv show that came on HBO, so when some1 gave .e a few of them 2 read I couldn't wait but I had 2 go out and buy vol. 1. This was a good read and just like the tv how. This is a meddle half read. Well done.
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love all the books in this series. They are funny and insightful and full of wisdom. I can hardly wait for the next one to come out. These are books I love to read and don't hesitate to recommend to anyone. One friend I recommended them to didn't like them. She said it was like reading a book written for twelve-year-olds (Mr. McCall Smith has written several books for children). Well, maybe that's why I like them; I love to read childrens/young adult fiction!. I wouldn't hesitate to have a twe ...more
This story is absolutely charming! Mma Precious Ramotswe spends several years caring for her elderly father in his home in Botswana. Her father suffers from lung disease after years working in the mines. When he passes away, Mma Ramotswe inherits his money and uses it to open a business....a detective agency. She is the only female detective in Botswana and isn't really trained in investigation, but she has wits, intelligence, and intuition. At first, cases are few and she worries her business w ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa Vegan and Laura
I'm so glad I gave this series another try. Parts of this book were 5 stars for me, I really enjoyed parts that focused on the characters and their life experiences. Mma Ramotswe is a wonderful strong character and I'm looking forward to getting to know her more through the series. I really enjoyed the gentle escapism this book provides by taking you Botswana and I love the cultural details such as (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ruth by: Melinda
The only thing I didn't like was that it had to end.

I learned that you don't have to write elloquently to write a book. Marcos keeps telling me I should write children's books. This book was so simple and yet so enjoyable that it makes me wonder if I really could write a book too.

Because each mystery/case is so short and precise, it doesn't need all the suspense other books use. I think the suspense in this book is about finding out what the next problem wil be and how clever she is to solve it.
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I have not read very many books set in Africa or featuring African culture. In fact, I can only think of one other one off the top of my head, and I didn't care for it much. But both of them were similar in that they both told their story by way of mini-stories, and each one of those has something of a moral or message.

I've read so little in this niche that I don't know if that's something that is common in Africa-based storytelling, or if it just happens to be coincidental, but I can say for c
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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)
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  • 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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Articles featuring this book

With clever detectives, missing jewels, murderous women, daring spies, and more, mysteries and thrillers deliver page-turning delight with...
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“You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel.” 2256 likes
“It was time to take the pumpkin out of the pot and eat it. In the final analysis, that was what solved these big problems of life. You could think and think and get nowhere, but you still had to eat your pumpkin. That brought you down to earth. That gave you a reason for going on. Pumpkin.” 95 likes
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