Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

by Alexander McCall Smith
Published 1998
Pages 235

Genre: Mystery

On the search for a different genre, I came across this intriguing series by Alexander McCall Smith. After reading some reviews, I decided to start with the first volume.
Precious Ramotswe is an inquisitive, fearless woman, who has decided to open up her very own detective agency in Botswana. This first book dedicates a lot of time to flashbacks, as a way to give the reader clearer insight into the world of this woman. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with her. She is an educated woman, but she does not always think things through. She makes a lot of mistakes (reminiscent of the old Sherlock Holmes), but somehow she always manages to come out on top.
Albeit, some situations are “campy”; however, the charm with which Smith captures the scene, makes for an entertaining read. Smith’s ability to capture Africa into tight little snip-its of detail, come together nicely for an adequate picture of African life and surroundings. From his use of Setswana vernacular, to the rare glimpses of African insects and open plains, Smith illustrates Africa beautifully and honestly.
Mme Ramotswe is the epitome of the true African woman; she is wise, stubborn, large, kind, intuitive, and honest, among others. Reading deeper into Smith’s descriptions of the African countryside, as well as its culture, it is clear that Mme Ramotswe is not only the epitome of the African woman, but also a representation of Africa itself.
Even though some of Mme Ramotswe’s investigations are a bit predictable, and some of the tangents are a bit drawn-out, it was fun getting to know her and going along on these adventures with her. I look forward to reading the second volume, and the third, and the fourth…