The unlikelihood of a ladies detective agency in Botswana, which is the premise of the book The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Abacus, 2003), is made completely believable by the cases the agency is called upon to solve. Situations that would not be likely in Western culture are portrayed as normal and the unconventional manner in which they are solved is completely acceptable in this setting. The book is a mixture of humour, tragedy, romance, adventure and mystery yet Alexander McCall Smith manages to combine all these ingredients to make an easy to read and mostly enjoyable story. The pain of the main character’s unhappy marriage is a sad contrast to an otherwise agreeable collection of incidents which are all resolved most satisfactorily and in McCall Smith’s next book we have every reason to expect this lady detective will find martial happiness. The descriptions of Botswana reminded me of scenes from “The gods must be crazy” making them highly convincing.

A book to be read for the pure pleasure of a good story. It does not challenge the reader to look for deeper meanings or moral lessons.

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