This week our journey continues to the colours, wildlife and heat of Botswana. Welcome to The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency, here to solve all manner of mysteries from cheating spouses to missing children. All solved by the larger than life (literally) character Mma Ramotswe.
The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency is a series of books written by Alexander McCall Smith and for this journey, we start with the very first book in the series, The One Where It All Began.
I had heard of this series of books many times previously, it is certainly not a new series that’s for sure. It just never seemed to appeal to me, and since reading the first book, I am a bit annoyed at myself that I had not delved into this series sooner. The main character, Mma Ramotswe is incredibly likeable and Alexander McCall Smith does well to create a solid history and back story to the character from the outset of this book, which really causes readers to become invested in her, and want to follow her journey, wishing her success as she embarks on her business venture.
Mma Ramotswe has not had an easy life by any means, and the author covers this well in the first few chapters, giving his character more depth as the story unfolds. I think it is his ability to really build his characters into almost real people, that has made this series of books so successful. I was disappointed when the book came to a close, as I wanted more from this character. I wanted to know where her life took her to next.
As this is the first book in the series, it does feel a bit jumpy and segmented at times, as the author lays out the foundations for the future books, so you don’t really get stuck into any of the cases Mma Ramotswe takes on in any depth. However, there is an underlying story that runs through the book and the author does well to keep linking the various scenarios back to this, and manages to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion by the end of the book. I have a feeling the rest of the books, now the character is established, will be more meaty when it comes to the cases she solves. I am already putting in an order for the next in the series!
Despite the encounters with cobras, scorpions and other such creatures in the book, the areas Mma Ramotswe travels around in Botswana are so descriptive that it really makes you want to visit yourself! Someone get my passport, I am off to Botswana (oh how I wish I was!!).
Overall the first book in the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series was a light hearted read, with elements of mystery that kept you turning the pages. It is a relatively short book, which is why I am glad there is a series, as the one book is just not enough to satisfy my Mma Ramotswe cravings! I have surprised myself in enjoying this and would whole heartedly recommend to others.
Join me next week as we head to the island of Kyushu in Japan.
Have you read any of the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency books? What did you think?