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

Title: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Series: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency #1
Publisher: Anchor Books
Date Published: February 6, 2003

Where you can find it:
Amazon(CA) / Goodreads

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

A special thank you to my Grandma who shared this, and so many other wonderful books with me.


Precious Ramotswe has only just set up shop as Botswana’s No.1 (and only) lady detective when she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. However, the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witch doctors.

Lately, all I’ve wanted to do is disappear into a cozy book. And The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was on the case.

This book tells the story of Mma Ramotswe, the self-proclaimed only lady private detective in Botswana. Her agency is only just getting off the ground though, so all she has to stop crimes and solves mysteries are her wit, intelligence, quick thinking, and a little white van without air conditioning.

“There was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe – the only lady private detective in Botswana – brewed tea. And three mugs – one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need?”

Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency wasn’t quite what I expected, particularly as someone who enjoys her fair share of mysteries (hello tweenage Nancy Drew obsession). It’s less the story of a detective trying to find the answers to the mystery, and more of a series of little adventures that last two or three chapters before the case is solved and Mma Ramotswe is on the look for a new client once again.

The book is in absolutely no rush to tell any of it’s numerous tales. There’s still a bit of tension and mystery as we wonder how our lady detective will manage to outwit her mark and find the answers, but for the most part, it’s a calm and relaxed atmosphere that focuses on being as cozy and comfortable as possible. I couldn’t have been more relaxed reading this if the book had come with a cozy blanket and a warm cup of tea.

“’Women are the ones who knows what’s going on,’ she said quietly. ‘They are the ones with eyes. Have you not heard of Agatha Christie?’”

― Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

The characters are charming, with little lines and bits of witty dialogue sprinkled liberally throughout; they are the true focus of the story and it’s hard not to wish you could spend more time with them. The author’s prose is practically lyrical, and his love for Botswana is clearly shown through his vibrant descriptions and prose. He manages to transport the reader to a setting that felt vibrant and rich with history and culture, and so warm and inviting you can’t help but want to be there.

I should note that this book is not written by a POC author, so if you’re looking for something that’s written from that perspective, this isn’t the place to find it. However if what you’re looking for is a cozy story about a cunning, capable lady detective, there’s plenty here for you to enjoy.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is a sweet, easy story that focuses less on the mysteries to be solved and more on the world and the people that surround them. This story might not keep you gripping the pages with tension and suspense, but it still has the power to enchant and delight.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, or just enjoy cozy books in general to fill up a quiet afternoon, I recommend giving this book a try.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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