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The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency

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Wayward daughters. Missing Husbands. Philandering partners. Curious conmen. If you've got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only - and finest - female private detective.

 

Her methods may not be conventional, and her manner not exactly Miss Marple, but she's got warmth, wit and canny intuition on her side, not to mention Mr J.L.B. Maketoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. And Precious is going to need them all as she sets out on the trail of a missing child, a case that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger . . .

 

Delightfully different, THE NO.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY offers a captivating glimpse of an unusual world.

 

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This is the first book of a series of six. The others are in order...

Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, The Kalahari Typing School for Men, The Full Cupboard of Love, and In the Company of Cheerful Ladies. READ THEM ALL.

They are written in a very distinctive and original style, lots of humour, great characters, and will transport you into a different world.

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I really enjoyed the Ladies No 1 Detective Agency, and I'd like to read the others. Kind of saving them for a rainy day.

 

I think LN1DA was great because of its unusual setting. Africa came to life, as a place of opportunity (for lady detectives) and vast landscapes. Yet, underneath a current of crime...

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I've just put a bid in to buy this on E-bay. Its been on my list of books I want to read for nearly a year now so I think its time I read it. Has anyone else read it and what do you think of it?

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I so enjoyed the humour behind his writing and the tempo at which they are written. You could be transported to a hot dusty yard, seeking the shade from a tree, sipping your bush tea in a couple of pages. An enjoyable lot of nonsense about nothing in particular

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I have read the first four, and have loved them. They are the books I read between the more demanding titles that my bookclubs provide, as they are easy, gentle and amusing.

AMS makes Botswana sound such an inviting place, and it is lovely to have a heroine who is 'traditionally built'. I was tempted to try Bush Tea, but wasn't keen! Looking forward to getting book number five soon.

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The series is fantastic, the books are very descriptive and transport you to Botswana in a few lines! I have bought the book for more friends than any other. Try other Alexander Mcal Smith books outside of this series they are all great.

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I have just started 'The Full Cupboard of Life', and can't wait to see if Mme Potokwani manages to bamboozle Mr J.L.B. Matekoni into making a parachute jump!

 

I have recently seen these books described as 'patronizing to the point of racism' Are they?

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I read all the books in the series, except the last one, Cheerful ladies, and to tell you the truth sometimes you can read a bit of patronising, but from there to racism is a long road!! It is a bit like when I read italian caracterizations in foreign literature and I can feel a bit unconfortable at certain sterotypes or generalizations. But that doesn't mean that the writer is a racist or against an ethnic groups or anything of the kind. In the case of these books I think that what shines through is the obivous love of the author for a beautiful country and its people. If sometimes there is a bit of mockery it is always wrapped in deep affection. What makes these books so charming to me is the decency of the people described, the reality of their occupations and preoccupations, the strong feel of the country, smells, heat, described so precisely. The positive outlook might look a bit relentless but in the end makes the reading such a calming and enjoying experience.

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I don't think these books are racist. A lot of the time the author really highlights the way that it is important always to look at the person and what they do rather than who they are and what they own or their status in life. The importance of politeness and taking the time to listen. There are some absolutely brilliant jokes in them. My favourite is when the heroine is trying to understand why an Oedipal complex is not a good idea? Shen then muses as to what is wrong with a son loving his mother.

 

These books about Africa are the ones that are most generous about the people and how they behave. In fact his German trilogy (slower to get into but still great fun) and his latest Sunday Philosiphers club, are far less forgiving on the key protaganists.

 

Actually thinking about these last two series makes me realise that in these two series he is dangerously close into stereotypes.

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I read the first of the No 1 Ladies etc & really enjoyed it. It was different & entertainig if a bit episodic. I read the second one but found it a bit superficial. Started the third but felt I was reading the same book over again so gave up.

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I recently read this on holiday, and found it a very entertaining light read. Mma Ramotswe is a superbly drawen, sympathetic and charismatic character, and you can see why her girth fails to prevent many of the the men of Botswana falling in love with her. Yes it is a bit of light froth, and the mysteries wouldn't tax Sherlock Holmes for very long.

One about a pair of twins was flagged up straight away and was so obvious and cliched, that I spent 20 pages silently shouting, "They're twins!"

 

 

It is basically a series of short stories with a narrative thread running through it, ie the establishment of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. There were a lot of lovely touches. I do love way she is always Mma Ramotswe, but not as much as I love the fact that Mr J. L. B. Maketonie is always spelt out in full.

 

I look forward to reading the next one, Tears Of The Giraffe, having already read the first 15 pages.

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I also read this first volume in the series a couple of weeks back. Prompted by a member of my real world book group who said I'd loathe them, I wanted to see if it was true.

 

It wasn't. I wouldn't put it top of the pile but it was very readable and I will read more of the series. I found it fluffy and inconsequential and it is a gross misrepresentation to ever file it in the Crime/Thrillers/Mystery section of the bookshop/library. For me, it was the escapist element, the slow pace and simple life of Botswana that was appealing, as were the characters.

 

I'm also enjoying the mickey taking sketches in the current Radio 4 series of "Dead Ringers", one programme which should never have been transferred to TV.

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I guess I am well and truly alone in not enjoying this then. I read "Tears of the Giraffe" and found it such a struggle.

 

While I couldn't say for sure there was anything wrong with it, I did find it mildly patronising. I also would not agree that there was much racism, however I would say it was quite colonial and well, European is the word I think I want!

 

I would not go out of my way to read any more, is Tears of the Giraffe one of the better ones or one of the worse (which would be my luck!) or are they all pretty much the same?

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Rescued Thread:

 

maggieB 17th December 2005 08:44 PM

i think you need to read this series in order to get the sense of what has happened , I also think you need to realise it is quite lighthearted and in a sense very easy to read, if you start with this in mind it is a lovely bedtime read

 

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Momo 4th April 2006 09:38 PM

I have only just found this thread since I usually don't read this genre.

However, I have read all the Ladies' Detective stories and liked them a lot (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't have carried on). They are light stories, easy reads but quite amusing, not the usual "easy reads" with nothing memorable in it. All of my friends who have read the novels, liked them, as well. :D

 

More information on Alexander McCall Smith

 

BTW, I agree with maggieB that you should read them in order, Flingo, maybe try the first one, if you still don't like it, it's just not your book. But I could imagine you liking it.

 

-------------------------------------------------

 

Momo 4th April 2006 09:41 PM

 

***

Quote:

Originally Posted by belinda

In fact his German trilogy (slower to get into but still great fun) and his latest Sunday Philosiphers club, are far less forgiving on the key protaganists.

***

 

Do you mean Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances about Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of The Institute of Romance Philology? Sounds quite interesting, have never heard of them, though.

 

-------------------------------------------------

 

Starry 5th April 2006 10:32 AM

 

I read the first two in this series a couple of years back and while I really enjoyed the first one I thought the second one, Tears of a Giraffe, fell flat and agree with speareig that it felt like it was the same story retold. So I haven't sought out the subsequent books.

 

PS I tried Bush Tea and rather liked it, though it wouldn't tempt me away from coffee on a regular basis :)

 

-------------------------------------------------

 

Claire 6th April 2006 05:21 PM

 

***

Quote:

Originally Posted by Momo

Do you mean Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances about Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of The Institute of Romance Philology? Sounds quite interesting, have never heard of them, though.

***

 

I've read these three and really enjoyed them. They reminded me more than anything of Three Men in a Boat, mainly for the humour which arises out of the bickering and rivalries between three rather pompous gentlemen - in this case, linguistics professors, who bumble their way into some unlikely scenarios.

 

The tennis game at the beginning of the first book was the funniest thing I'd read in a long time!

 

They're not really crime novels, although they're classed as such, I think, but they're well worth a read, all the same.

 

Has anyone else read them?

 

-------------------------------------------------

 

Momo 7th April 2006 03:22 PM

 

***

Quote:

Originally Posted by Claire

I've read these three and really enjoyed them. They reminded me more than anything of Three Men in a Boat.

***

 

Oooh, I should give them a try, then. I loved Three Men in a Boat.

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By, the way, there's a seventh book out:

Blue Shoes and Happiness

 

and an eighth one has been announced:

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive

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I heard a spoof of this on Dead Ringers on the radio and their general comment is that nothing happens. Is that true of the books? Some say they are boring, some love them. I've got the book, and it's on my "going to read list".

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I hate to say that, for me, the Dead Ringers send up was pretty accurate.

 

I really enjoyed the first book and I managed to read it very quickly, so I was happy with the authors style, but for me the mysteries were too simplistic and there was a lack of depth.

 

I do hope I'm not putting a cat amongst the pigeons here, but to me there is so much more that could be done with the genre in Africa. I accept that there is a place for more laid back, less intense stories, but given the problems on that continent there is probably scope for a really hard-boiled character and series.

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The first in an increasingly long series of books I have to add to Mount TBR.

 

It introduces Mma Ramotswe the best (and only) lady detective in Botswana and I knew within the first ten pages that I was going to love her. She's bright, she's funny and it's been a long time since I've smiled that much when reading a book. The descriptions of Africa completely sucked me in and the only problem I have with it is that I know I'm going to have to buy the next one - and soon!

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Darn! Looked and couldn't find it. Thanks for that Slow Rain. If any moderator feels lthe need to move this, please feel free. :o

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