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Cannonball Read V: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

By Ashlie | Book Reviews | December 3, 2013 | Comments ()


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The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was on my to read list for a while, so I’m glad to finally have a chance to read it. It jumps around in the beginning, in both a non-linear way and with narrators, and so that’s a little jarring at first. Because of the format it took me a little while to get into it, but once I got the rhythm and pacing I really enjoyed it.

Precious Ramotswe is a woman in Botswana set on making her own way. Quietly and with purpose, she is a woman who has lived life and really just wants to use what she identifies as innate female skills to solve mysteries and help others. The other main narrators include her closest confidant and childhood friend, and her father. I really thought this was going to be a mystery novel, and while it is obviously about a detective agency, that’s really only one facet of the story. It is more about reflections of daily life in Botswana and the connectivity of people and life. I’m incredibly naive about that corner of the world, so it was great to read about it and notice the similarities and differences to my own experiences. The mysteries are really a back-drop for telling the story and add more layers.

At the start, what may seem to be so black and white isn’t so easy, because Ramotswe isn’t just interested in the mystery, at her core she is really interested in fairness and finding a satisfying conclusion for all parties. Her holistic approach leads the reader to think about the bigger picture and not view detective work from the traditional victim/suspect angle.

I just love the story of a woman, breaking cultural barriers to follow her passion and make a happy life for herself. It is satisfying and sweet and filled with moments for quiet reflection which makes it a great read for summer, or really, any time. I can’t wait to read the rest and possibly check out the TV series.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it, and watch for info about Cannonball Read SIX on the group blog, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter and find more of Ashlie’s reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Stephen Wong

    Did you know Oldboy was originally a manga?

  • Captain_Tuttle

    I "read" this on a long car trip. The narration was wonderful - it allowed me to become totally immersed in the story.

  • ljridley

    I recommend the HBO series. I thought it captured the tone of the book really well, and Jill Scott was a delight. Very sad that it didn't get more than the one season.

  • dizzylucy

    I know, I loved that show, and Jill Scott was wonderful. The whole cast was. I'm 2 behind in the book series, but it's one I always love reading.

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