Alexander McCall Smith has written ten books in this enormously popular series about the life of a “traditionally built” African woman and her adventures as the only female detective in Botswana. This is the first of the lot and introduces listeners to Mma Ramotswe and the people in her life. HBO has recently created a television mini-series based on this book.
The Main Body:
Precious Ramotswe sets up her detective agency in a small shop with only a few pieces of furniture, a tiny white van, and an old typewriter. She loves her country and her countrymen, and her great desire is to help people with problems in their lives. As one of the few detectives in Gaborone, and certainly the only one who is a woman, she has to be patient with her potential clients who are often skeptical of her abilities.
Before long, however, using intuition, keen observational skills, and great common sense, Mma Ramotswe manages to help a woman who is afraid her husband is being unfaithful, and uncover the whereabouts of a father’s wayward daughter. Word of her success begins to spread, and she soon has a steady stream of clients.
Mma Ramotswe hires an assistant, Grace Makutsi, who is extraordinarily proud of her 97% score on the final exam at secretarial school. The two become engaged in their biggest case to date, which deals with a boy who disappears amid suspicious circumstances, making them fear he may have been murdered by witch doctors.
Listeners searching for a tension-filled detective story featuring a hard-boiled, gun-toting Private Eye should look elsewhere. On the other hand, folks who have never been fond of mysteries should consider giving this one a try. It is simply written, but charming in its ability to conjure up a place far removed from the fast-paced life most of us are accustomed to.
The author, who spent many years living in Africa, describes the land and the people in an affectionate way that brings them vividly to life. The story is a perfect, gentle diversion for children and adults alike.
Lisette Lecat is the ideal narrator for this story. Her lyrical, South African accent is a joy to hear, and the romantic names of the people and places in Botswana roll off her tongue in a natural way. Even though I love to read, listening to this book is the best way to experience it, in my opinion. That is because Ms. Lecat is so talented at making the listener see and hear the action