The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Review

  • Author: Alexander McCall Smith
  • Series: The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency #1
  • Genre: Mystery
  • No. of pages: 233
  • Dates read: 24.06.19 – 30.06.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

This was an impulse buy about 2 weeks ago in a charity shop. Mystery novels are my favourite kind of novels and when I saw a mystery novel with a Botswanian woman as the detective I could not not pick it up!

I am so happy I did!

Plot: Meet Mma Ramotswe, the endearing, engaging, simply irresistible proprietress of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the first and only detective agency in Botswana. With persistent observation, gentle intuition, and a keen desire to help people with the problems of their lives, she solves mysteries great and small for friends and strangers alike.

Mma Ramotswe is an incredible character. She is tough, loving and incredibly intelligent. I loved her confidence and nerve. She is depicted as the definition of what makes Africa and in particularly Botswana great and I loved that image of this woman be the physical representation of not only her country but the entire continent. Reading the story from her POV was really enjoyable when you read something like Agatha Christie’s Poirot it’s always through the POV of his assistant or friend so we don’t see how Poirot figures things out and can be wowed at the end by his brilliance. With this book, I loved how we were piecing together the mystery alongside her! We found out all the vital information just as she did, you feel like you yourself are a private detective.

I really enjoyed the structure of this novel. The first couple of chapters starting off describing her childhood and the people she grew up with. All of this helped influence her brilliant mind and her love for solving a mystery. I also loved how while there was one over-arching mystery, filtered through the story were tiny cases that Mma Romatswe solved so it felt like more of a short story collection as some cases would only take up one chapter.

My main reservation though was that the author was a white man writing about the experiences of a black woman living in Africa. I understand that authors should be at liberty to write a variety of characters but Mma Ramotswe’s story was so raw and honest and heart-breaking I was worried with how it was going to be handled. Purely because the author would never be able to experience what life would be like for a woman living in rural Botswana and growing up there. I do feel it was done well and I never felt that the story was handled carelessly. But I can’t really decide of this was handled well as I myself am white and also will never experience what’s like to be someone like Mma Ramotswe.

That being said, I did really enjoy this book. I flew through it and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

The next book I will be reviewing will be Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. I am reading this for the ONTD Reading Challenge for the month of July, the theme is ‘re-tellings’.

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