#1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, features detective Mma Precious Ramotswe, the first female detective of Botswana who wants to serve the people and find answers for their mysteries. The book begins with a retelling of her personal story and how her father had impacted her while he was alive. Throughout the novel, several crime stories are presented, which is very untraditional in comparison to the mystery and detective fiction we have studied throughout the class.

This is certainly not your typical mystery/detective fiction, nor is it like any other mystery that I have read before. Ramotswe’s detective cases fluctuate on topics. Some cases may be serious while others may be very mundane. At one point, Ramotswe is exposing a freeloader pretending to be a father, yet at another point she is exploring whether or not a young Indian girl has a boyfriend. Other cases include determining the legitimacy of a worker’s injury claim, and exposing the actual reason as to why a doctor was performing inconsistently. The mood of the book changes drastically towards the end with something more violent and dark, where the works of a witch doctor may be in question when a small boy goes missing.


A large theme within the book focuses on Ramotswe’s love for her country and African culture. Ramotswe wants to help the people of Botswana, which is why she opened her detective services. She is a woman of the people. At the beginning, unfortunately her services were being taken advantage of. Although, Ramotswe is very intelligent and though she may not initially have much, she has her intelligence, will and love for the people she serves to compensate. Another large theme within the book is the advancement of women. Ramotswe is the only woman to have this type of business in Botswana. She really holds it down for the female population, thus adding to the untraditional aspects of the novel.

“They are my people, my brothers and sisters. It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries of their lives. That is what I am called to do”

Other books in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series

I loved this book. I loved the integration of another culture, which is not depicted very often in the genre of mystery and detective fiction. Additionally, it is thoroughly untraditional, thus drastically setting it apart from anything that we have read in class and anything I’ve read outside of class. This book is a book about several mysteries, that involve an female detective, which is set in the country of Botswana. I do not know how one could get more diverse than that.

A film adaptation was created in order to depict Alexander McCall Smith’s book in a HBO series titled by the same name as the book, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. There are 8 total episodes. It was filmed in Botswana and truly depicts African culture and tradition.


Culture Trip, cdn.theculturetrip.com/images/56-191648-no-1-ladies-detective-agency-books.jpg.

“No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Amazon, images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51DNudt9tjL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg.

“The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Episode 1 – The Big Bonanza.” YouTube, 13 July 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=N69nmAK4byc.

Smith, Alexander McCall. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. First Anchor, 1998.

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