Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and more

If you enjoyed the trip through Botswana and would like to read more about Botswana, if you think you might go there someday, or if you think you might never go there – you need to read a wonderful series of books by Alexander McCall Smith.

The first book is The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. You meet the main character, and heroine, Mma Precious Ramotswe, the founder and owner of the only women’s detective agency in Botswana, and her assistant, Mma Grace Makutsi (who can’t resist a handsome pair of shoes), and the love of her Mma Ramotswe’s life, Mr. J. L. B. Matekone. Mma Ramotswe describes herself as “a woman of traditional build” and drives a very old, small white truck. She has a way of looking at things differently – and she solves her mysteries in ways you or I wouldn’t think of.

The books are short, and deceptively simple. They are “feel good” books, giving you smiles and warming your heart as you read. At the same time, you find yourself thinking back to these books, some of the issues, some of the characters, some of the plots – long after you have finished the book. That’s a sign of a good read!

As different as the thinking and culture is, the books are so full of grace and good humor and tolerance and forgiveness that when the book finishes, you can hardly wait to start the next one. You feel like Precious is your sister, a very smart sister, not without her flaws, but a woman to be respected, a woman of good character and who can make tough decisions.

She also makes mistakes, and has to live with the consequences. You will find the books addictive. The entire series is:

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe
Morality for Beautiful Girls
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
The Full Cupboard of Life
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Blue Shoes and Happiness

Jeffrey Deaver’s mysteries, on the other hand, are intricate and woven through with arcane information, but you always learn something. He has a series about a quadriplegic, Lincoln Rymes, a criminologist, who solves cases in a very Sherlock Holmes kind of way, by thinking about the evidence and the patterns that it presents. He has a girlfriend, Amelia, who is a policewoman, and works with him on many of the cases. The books that have these two characters are:

The Bone Collector
The Coffin Dancer
The Empty Chair
The Stone Monkey
The Vanished Man
The Twelfth Card

Last – and least, for The Devil Wears Prada crowd is Linda Fairstein, who almost always has a book on the New York Times best seller list. Her heroine is Manhattan sex-crimes prosecutor (District Attorney) Alexandra Cooper, whose dad made a fortune on an artificial heart device, allowing her to work in the public service sector and still wear fabulous clothes, have weekly manicures and hair stylings at the best salons and eat at the coolest restaurants in town, and she tells you all about them.

They make great airplane reading for the trendy. The plots are formulaic – an astounding, mysterious crime is committed, Alexandra gets involved, along with her detective side-kicks, the criminal involved somehow focuses on Alexandra and she has to spend the night at her friends’ houses. You don’t read these mysteries for the astounding plots, you read them because they are funny and superficial and a quick read that doesn’t require much thinking.

Happy reading!

September 21, 2006 - Posted by | Africa, Books, Botswana, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Uncategorized


  1. Hi and greetings from Mali. I’ve really enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s books. Recently I got given the audio book version of The Kalahari Typing School for Men, and we spent a number of happy evenings listening. It was very well done and kept to the spirit of the books in the characterization.

    Comment by sociolingo | September 21, 2006 | Reply

  2. I’ve read several of the No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and I agree they certainly give you a warm happy feeling.

    Comment by jewaira | September 21, 2006 | Reply

  3. Sociolingo: Mali! Wow! Are you teaching there?

    Jewaira: I would LOVE to see your library 😉

    Comment by intlxpatr | September 22, 2006 | Reply

  4. I found the book incredibly boring and tedious to read, where are the nuclear weapons and guns?

    Comment by ME | March 1, 2007 | Reply

  5. ME: !!!!! Total hoot! It is a change from all the LeCarre, Tom Clancy, James Lee Burke, and all those brutal adventure and detective books. It has it’s own charms, to me anyway. Your the first person I have met who didn’t like them! But you made me laugh.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 1, 2007 | Reply

  6. Hi there from Kuala Lumpur. Yes I love the series, and in one of the latests… Blue shoes and Happiness, Malaysia is mentioned!
    Wonderful read… and I think there is a new one coming out soon?

    Comment by Mrs K | March 12, 2007 | Reply

  7. Welcome, Mrs. K. And Blue Shoes and Happiness is a GREAT read! I don’t know if there is one coming soon.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 12, 2007 | Reply

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