torsdag den 18. juni 2009

A McCall Smith, The No 1 Ladies´ Detective Agency (1998)

This book, written by a Scottish author, is the first in the series, and my fourth cozy mystery review.

Mma Ramotswe inherits her father´s cattle, sells the herd at the right time, and spends the money on a detective bureau, the first one run by a woman in Botswana. She is a happy and confident woman, yet when she opens the doors to her new business, she feels a twinge of doubt.

“In her heart of hearts, she knew there would be no clients. The whole idea was a ghastly mistake. Nobody wanted a private detective, and certainly nobody would want her. Who was she, after all? She was just Precious Ramotswe from Mochudi. She had never been to London or wherever detectives went to find out how to be private detectives.”

Of course Botswana needs their Miss Marple, an ordinary woman full of common sense, who solves a handful of cases in this rather different crime novel. Her life, background and childhood with her beloved father takes up quite a lot of the story, which is a real cozy mystery with a strong sense of Africa.

Meet Alexander McCall Smith

A.M. Smith, Damernes Detektivbureau Nr. 1 (2003)

Denne krimi, skrevet af en skotte, er den første i serien, og min fjerde ´cozy mystery´-anmeldelse.

Mma Ramotswe arver sin fars kvæg, sælger hjorden på det helt rigtige tidspunkt, og investerer pengene i et detektivbureau, det første i Botswana som drives af en kvinde. Hun er en lykkelig og tilfreds kvinde, men da hun slår dørene op til sin nye virksomhed, føler hun alligevel en snert af tvivl.

”I sit hjertes inderste vidste hun, der ingen klienter ville komme. Hele ideen var en skrækkelig misforståelse. Ingen havde brug for en privatdetektiv, og i særdeleshed ikke hende. Hvem var hun, når det kom til stykket? Hun var bare Precious Ramotswe fra Mochudi. Hun havde aldrig været i London, eller hvor detektiver nu tog hen for at finde ud af, hvordan man var privatdetektiver.”

Men selvfølgelig har Botswana brug for deres egen Miss Marple, en almindelig kvinde fuld af almindelig, sund fornuft, som løser en håndfuld forskellige sager i denne noget anderledes krimi. Mma Ramotswes baggrund og hendes barndom hjemme hos hendes elskede far fylder en del i denne roman, som er en rigtig hyggekrimi med et stærkt islæt af afrikansk miljø.

Mød Alexander McCall Smith

14 kommentarer:

betteskov sagde ...

You review is certainly not unfair, but my spider senses are tingling: I get the feeling that you did not enjoy it much. Am I right?

Dorte H sagde ...

Jane, that was not really my intention. What I tried to convey was that this book is cosy, not scary. You won´t have nightmares after this one, but I liked the main character and the African environment with crocodiles and witch doctors for a change. So I can recommend it, if you want a taste of Africa, not if you want your hair standing on end.

Belle Wong sagde ...

I never thought of it as Miss Marple in an African environment. You know how much I enjoy my Agatha Christie audios, and McCall Smith is one of my favorite authors. Yes, I think I should dig this book out of my tbr.

Søren sagde ...

Hi Dorte H,

thanks for the review. I couldnt agree more :-)

When I got to book number 5 or 6, it got a bit dull though.

Unknown sagde ...

Alexander McCall Smith is indeed Scottish, living in Edinburgh, and a British citizen, but I think it adds to the understanding of his Botswana detective stories, that he was born in Zimbabwe. There are already ten books featuring Precious Ramotswe.

His website is here:
And the list of the Ramotswe books here:

And as you said they are rather cosy than scary.


Dorte H sagde ...

Søren, you are welcome.

Ole, thank you. I didn´t know he was born in Zimbabwe, but it is evident from his novels that he knows the area very well indeed.
Apart from their cosiness I enjoyed the information about Botswana.

Dorte H sagde ...

Ms Bookish: Mma Ramotswe refers to Agatha Christie more than once in this novel, and I think there is a reference to Miss Marple as well, so I thought the comparison was fair enough.

Beth F sagde ...

I actually couldn't finish this one. I think I'm the only one on earth who doesn't like this series. I live Miss Marple! I love an African setting. I love cozies. I didn't like this.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) sagde ...

This reminds me a lot of a series I read a long time ago, the Ameila Peabody series. They are set in Egypt, but the gist seems similar. I like cozy mysteries a little more than scary ones, so I should look for this series.

Kerrie sagde ...

I love this series,a nd you are right - Precious Ramotswe has a lot in common with Jane Marple. and of course at the beginning of the series she is a spinster too. I like the fact that there is no blood 'n guts in them, little forensic stuff, just mainly people and their problems.
There has been though quite a bit of criticism over his portrayal of Botswana, and the novelist Suasn Hill got into great hot water on her blog with her readers over their "political correctness"..
The books are a bit patchy and there was a time when I thought the series had run its race t #7, but then at #8 it came good again. Check some posts on my site if you want more.

Marg sagde ...

For me these books are the right up there at the top of the cosy scale, because they are definitely comfort reads - relaxing and enjoyable.

I agree with Kerrie, that a couple of the middle books were a bit flat but in the last couple of books in particular the books have picked up again.

I would never have thought to have compared Precious with Amelia Peabody.

Dorte H sagde ...

Beth, it does surprise me that you don´t like it, but you are probably not the only one :)
I think it was a nice change and I am sure I will read more of them, but right now I am reading British crime (with a nice, dead body) - and enjoying it immensely.

Dorte H sagde ...

Kim, it sounds like the right series for you. Good to hear from you.

Kerrie, I will read more of them, but on the whole I DO like more blood and gore :)
I think it is a bit unfair to attack McCall Smith, saying he is not politically correct as the series is obviously full of humour. Humour should NOT be (politically) correct.

Dorte H sagde ...

Marg, they are cosy :)
I don´t know Amelia Peabody, but perhaps I should try her books.