Thursday, July 26, 2007

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY: Alexander McCall Smith: Anchor Books: Mystery: 235 pages

The African-born author of more than 50 books, Alexander McCall Smith, turns his talents to detection in this artful, pleasing novel about Mma (aka Precious) Ramotswe, Botswana's one and only lady private detective. A series of vignettes linked to the establishment and growth of Mma Ramotswe's "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" serve not only to entertain but to explore conditions in Botswana in a way that is both penetrating and light thanks to Smith's deft touch.

I didn’t like this book as well as I was hoping to. Although I did learn about African culture I felt like the book was quite jumpy. There were portions of the book that I did enjoy, but on the whole I just couldn’t get into the story. I don’t feel a draw to read any of the others in the series.


1 comment:

DAP said...

I try not to, but I'm going to have be disagreeable now...STRONGLY disagreeable. I must submit an entirely different opinion of "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency". I've so enjoyed reading the rest of the series as well. Truly, they have been delightful.

Perhaps one of the reasons I adore them so much is the setting in Botswana. My family lived in a nearby African country for several years (I only visited for a summer) But, the absolutely true to life character sketches, personality traits, ways of life, in fact... everything...rings true. Alexander McCall Smith captures the 'other'. But no, I agree the book/series aren't deep, pulitzer prize winning, peace resolving mysteries. But it's a chance to discover a culture you will not find anywhere else.

And the language! Ahh, the language. The colloquial speech is almost treasure enough. The genius behind each sentence does reveal Precious' attitude towards nature, fate, and God.

And the light-hearted charm leaves my heart in a smile while my head is allowed to ponder some of the baffling aspects of life on the other side of the world. They say to know is to love, and I do.