Time to tout another book series. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. I was Thrilled this afternoon to find book #11 on the shelf at my local bookstore. I also like it that the books are very clearly numbered so there is no question.
Several things make this series special. First of all, Alexander McCall Smith is an amazing writer. So good in fact that I was about three books into the series before realizing it wasn’t Alexandra and “she” was really a “he”. He writes women very, very well and, as you might guess by the title of the series and first book, his main character is a woman.
The place is the African country of Botswana and he paints with words the landscape, history and people of this little known country with love and deep affection. Precious Ramotswe moves from the country to the city after her father dies and she uses her inheritance to establish a detective agency. The problems and mysteries she solves are very ordinary ones: why does a husband stray? Why might a young American disappear in the bush from a commune where he was loved and respected? Who is ransacking the shops along her street? The characters who people her world are written with depth and delight. Every one has their very special take on life and Smith allows them to philosophize about the nature of the world in very natural and compelling ways.
It is good to begin this series at the beginning even though each book stands alone. There is character and relationship development that is fun to follow in its natural order. One of the movie channels, HBO I think, produced a short series from the first few books. The casting is amazing and the actors are wonderful. Seldom have I seen a movie based book that was so right. See it if it comes around again ~ but try and read the books first. Again, this is a series that is nice to read with a cup of tea in your hand even if it isn’t red bush tea from the porches of Botswana.