Abacus, Africa, Alexander McCall Smith, Author, Book review, crime/thriller, Fiction, Publisher, Setting

‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith


Fiction – paperback; Abacus; 256 pages; 2003.

This book and the others in Alexander McCall Smith’s charming series seem to be flavour of the month right now.

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is certainly an intriguing and quaint book. The central character, Mma Ramotswe, is utterly lovely and especially kind-hearted and the setting of rural Botswana is wonderfully realised.

That’s the good bit.

The bad bit, as far as I’m concerned, is the writing (which is far too simplistic for readers like me who enjoy being challenged) and the plot (which doesn’t exist).

Each self-contained chapter reads like a series of short stories or anecdotes, which is fine if that’s what you like reading, but I found myself becoming bored with this book very quickly. I also struggled to appreciate the stripped back prose which is childlike in its simplicity.

I think this book would appeal to those who don’t read very often or to those over-tired readers who want something they can cruise through with their brain disengaged.

A pleasant enough read, but I won’t be bothering with the rest of the titles in the series.

8 thoughts on “‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ by Alexander McCall Smith”

  1. Funny, I loved this book simply because it didn’t challenge me too much. Some times when work is overly challenging I need a mindless read. I must have come upon this at the right time!


  2. Ya know–it also may well be that I loved it because I happened upon it right after returning from Africa….I really haven’t warmed to the other books in the series at all. Anyway, further validation that your review was dead spot on. I’ll be anxious to hear what you think of A Ship Made of Paper.


  3. Been looking through your reviews – and agree with each one I’ve read so far. This one very light – not my sort of thing at all – although I know many people are big fans.


  4. My mother was recently given a stack of ladies’no l detective books. In what order should she read them and how do we find out how the titles are numbered?
    Thanks, Linda in Nevada


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