Sunday, May 3, 2015

O.o.O.C.: "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1)" by Alexander McCall Smith

I received this book unexpectedly when my mother brought home That '80s Motorhome. I had heard of this book, but had assumed since it was a 'mystery' it would probably be set in the US or UK, as most mysteries seem to be placed in either region. To my surprise, I found it was set in Botswana, which was mostly why I read it almost immediately after I received it- my Travel the World in Books Challenge needed a boost.

Despite most assumptions, this book's main genre doesn't seem to be 'mystery'. In fact, it's more contemporary fiction than mystery because it really doesn't keep you guessing. The mysteries (there are multiple) make the book feel almost like you're reading a collection of short stories instead of a complete book- although they are based on one woman P.I.'s adventures, they aren't exactly riveting. Instead, you are taken on the ups and downs of a woman's first foray into small business, with a little (job-related) stalking on the side.

The Plot: (As Seen on Goodreads)
'Precious Ramotswe in Botswana sits in the shade and ponders the wisdom of her cattle farmer father, observes her neighbors, and cares for employers and subjects with humor. A clinic doctor has two different personalities depending on the day of the week. A Christian sect member vanishes. A witch doctor may have the bones of a kidnapped boy in his magic kit.'

To give you fair warning, Precious's life story is also part of this book. Her life isn't all that rosey, as she deals with difficult issues like domestic abuse and finding out what you really want out of life. But, during the course of her story, you grow to admire and respect her character, even if she isn't your favorite character ever penned by the end of the story.

Beyond her character, a lot of the story is character-driven by a series of Precious's clients. You get to see some of Botswana circa 1990s, but it really didn't take me there as much as I expected it to. One of the stories involves Precious driving over a snake in the road, which most people from my grandparents' old stomping grounds would know/deal with in Montana, so I was a little disappointed. The most interesting case is summarized in the synopsis- it deals with witchcraft, but still... I guess I wanted details of more African wildlife, like I watch on PBS. (I'm a bit of a nature addict). Botswana didn't come alive in this book for me, unfortunately.

By now, you should know that The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency wasn't my favorite book ever. That's okay, because if every book (even those not in my genres) were my favorite, I'd be a little worried about how objective I can be while still being a book blogger. However, if you like contemporary fiction with a little mystery set in an exotic locale, it wouldn't hurt to try this book, as long as you aren't looking for anything to make you fall head-over-heels in love with a new genre.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a good read with an interesting setting.

Content: Ages 16+ for mild sexual references, violence, and witchcraft.

Page Count: 235 pages in my secondhand paperback edition


  1. I wasn't that fond of this one either.

    1. Good to know! I was so excited for this book, as I thought you really couldn't make a mystery set in Botswana mediocre... but apparently I was wrong.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Bookworm!
      ~Litha Nelle


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