"First things first, Mma," she said.
"Tea helps us think things through."
- Mma Makutsi,
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
As a lover of chair-gripping mystery novels, my curiosity was only mildly aroused when I first heard of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I thought, “A woman who started her own detective agency in Botswana?” It seemed to have an interestingly different twist to your typical mystery so I went ahead and read the first book in the series. That was in 2005. Today after having read all 10 books, I confess that I am totally addicted to Mma Ramotswe and her world in Botswana. I can’t wait for the 11th to hit to bookstores!
The No. Ladies’ Detective Agency is a funny and witty detective series about Mma Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s only – and finest – lady detective. Her methods may be unusual but she is able to solve whatever problems her fellow countrymen will bring to her office, be it wayward husbands, missing relatives, or strange deaths -- you name it. Mma Ramotswe may not be Sherlock Holmes but she tackles every case with traditional common sense, sassiness, honesty, and, yes, even love.
"Do you want to talk to me, Mma?" .... "I am your sister, Mma."- Alexander McCall Smith, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
It was her way of expressing the old bonds that had always held the country together; a subtle, usually unspoken sense of mutual interest and respect....I am your sister. There was no simpler or more effective way of expressing a whole philosophy of life.
The setting is in Botswana, but Alexander McCall Smith’s writing style paints Mma Ramotswe and her hometown Gaborone with a lot of freshness, warmth, and beauty. In these pages where the familiar traditions of politeness, and respect for your neighbor is the way of life, you will feel that simple joys such as a cup of redbush tea are the best things that make life worth living. Alexander McCall Smith’s tone is elegant yet witty, humerous yet honest, not at all heavy or raw.
Each book would typically have a main problem or mystery that Mma Ramotswe will solve with the help of her assistant detective Mma Grace Makutsi, coupled with 2 or 3 subplots that involve the other characters in the story. I love Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, Mma Ramotswe’s fiancé in the beginning of the series, whom she eventually marries in the 5th book.
Did you know that there is already an HBO production of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency? Watch the trailer here!
Watch the videos to hear Alexander McCall Smith himself talk about each of them (these are episode diaries of the TV show - check out the indicated diary number for some of the books.)
Episode Author Diaries
I love this series so much that I took photos of each of my copy of the series!
Book 1: The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Author Diary 2)
The book that startd it all!
Book 2: Tears of the Giraffe (Author Diary 4)
Book 3: Morality for Beautiful Girls (Author Diary 6)
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Blue Shoes and Happiness
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
The Miracle at Speedy Motors
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
Find these landmarks in this map of Gaborone!
Gaborone is an actual city in Botswana, Africa. Here is a map of the city. Zoom in and see if you can find the landmarks as mentioned in the novel.
• Tlokweng Road where Mr. J.L.B Matekoni’s Speedy Motors is located
• Zebra Drive where Mma Ramotswe lives
• The National Stadium, where Mma Ramotswe went to see the Kalahari Swoopers in Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (Book 10)
• Princess Marina Hospital (mentioned in the first book)
• President Hotel (mentioned in several books)