As the turn of the year came upon us I ventured into a bookshop in Brighton whilst waiting for the bus. I remembered that back in November I had set myself the challenge of reading 52 books in 2014, approximately one every week. Browsing the shelves I came across The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency. My mum has every book in the series and has recommended them to me several times. I left for my bus with a copy of the book swinging in the little bag hung from my wrist.
This novel by Alexander McCall Smith is the first in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series. It is set in Botswana and focuses on Mma Ramotswe, the proprietor of the No.1, and only, detective agency in Botswana run by a woman. Mma Ramotswe starts the business after the death of her father with the money she receives in her inheritance.
The chapters occasionally feel haphazard, with the stories in them varying from short accounts of the cases Mma Ramotswe has solved, her and her father’s past and a book long case that is resolved at the end. This layout works well though and helps capture the essence of life in southern Africa and spaces out the events in the book. The descriptions of the landscapes and life where Mma Ramotswe lives and works add to the feel and depth of the story.
In this review, and others, I will not delve too deeply into the plot of the book. However, I will say I enjoyed it very much. The short chapters allowed for the story to be picked up and put down easily and meant I could read it during my work break quite comfortably. The characters within are varied and interesting and from hearing the back story of Mma Ramotswe you can understand how she got to be where she is and empathise with her. I am looking forward to reading more books in the series and finding out where Mma Ramotswe goes from here on.
A lovely book which captures your attention and imagination. Although it’s short, at only a couple of hundred pages, it is well worth your time to read it.