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Publisher's Summary

This remarkably fresh and charming best seller took the world by storm upon its publication. It has since earned two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations and was voted one of the "International Books of the Year and the Millennium" by the Times Literary Supplement. Mma "Precious" Ramotswe sets up a detective agency in Botswana on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, making her the only female detective in the country. At first, cases are hard to come by. But eventually, troubled people come to Precious with a variety of concerns. Potentially philandering husbands, seemingly schizophrenic doctors, and a missing boy who may have been killed by witch doctors all compel Precious to roam about in her tiny van, searching for clues.
Chosen as a Top Ten Mystery by the Organization of Independent Booksellers, U.S.A., The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is that rare novel that imparts a sage wisdom while inspiring hearty laughter and lasting smiles.
Listen to the other titles in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.
©1998 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2003 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews



Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Paperback, 2003
Edgar Allan Poe Award Winner, Best First Novel by an American Author, 1998
"One of the most entrancing literary treats of many a year...A tapestry of extraordinary nuance and richness." (Wall Street Journal)
"An artful, pleasing novel...General audiences will welcome this little gem of a book just as much if not more than mystery readers." (Publishers Weekly)
"Smart and sassy...Precious' progress is charted in passages that have the power to amuse or shock or touch the heart, sometimes all at once." (Los Angeles Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gene on 12-07-03

Transcends its Genre

Sometimes a book that supposedly inhabits a certain genre breaks away and becomes literature. That is true of this book, which unveils an entire universe practically unknown to most of its readers: Botswana and Africa. This is a horizon-widening book, and to call it detective fiction is like referring similarly to Crime and Punishment. When describing it, one is tempted to describe it as hilarious, and it certainly has many hilarious aspects, but it also has moments of sadness and empathy, sometimes with the perpetrator of a crime. The love of Africa is another element that shines forth. The narrator seemed to me to be the Merryl Streep of naration, rendering accents with a musical, dead-on, laconic precision compared to the way I thought they should sound. I don't have time to finish this review, unfortunately -- I'm busy listening to The Tears of the Giraffe, the next in the series...

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55 of 56 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Andrew on 05-07-04

an excellent piece of literature

i have to admit that i purchased this novel thinking i would be getting a detective story along the lines of sherlock holmes or agatha christie. but this book is so much more than a detective story. it is a story of love and africa, the kalahari sun and simplicity, the joys and heartaches of a family, and the triumphs of the human spirit.

the narrator is poignant and articulate and communicates very effectively the simplicity and unburdened hearts of her characters. her accents are impeccable and the listener can almost feel the sun on their brow and the dry wind at their back. a narrator can make or break a title, and i can't imagine reading this title as a book - the narrator brings out so many nuances that i would have missed simply with the written word. her efficacy ranks up there with the narrator of <i>life of pi</i> and <i>why we buy</i>.

i was also surprised that, as character-driven as this book is, i held my attention through to the very end. the author is very skilled at offering little details and background settings that intrigue the listener and cause one to want to push further and discover if these little details are going to be important later on. rarely was i disappointed. the book fits together like a difficult jigsaw puzzle: many pieces that somehow make a beautiful picture once that last piece is filled in. even more beautiful is that the pieces are so often portraits of the heart of the author's intimately crafted characters.

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20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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