This is a series that I have enjoyed without ever picking up and reading one of the books. It’s one of those series that I’ve only read via the audiobook versions (more about that later).
Set in Botswana, the books tell the story of Precious Ramotswe as she launches her detective agency and a new life for herself. The wit and charm of this series just make me smile. The observations about people and life as well as the love that Mma Ramotswe has for her homeland of Botswana make her someone I’d like to know.
The series currently consists of 11 books. I’ve listened to the first 10 over the past several years. As soon as I finish my current audiobook project (the entire Harry Potter series), the next audiobook I listen to will be The Double Comfort Safari Club.
Each book usually contains several cases for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Mma Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutsi also have their own lives and relationships that progress throughout the series. There is an interesting cast of secondary characters that move in and out of the limelight of the stories. Sometimes the cases take on the elements of a true mystery, and other times they are a matter of Mma. Ramotswe guiding her clients as they find own truth or peace with circumstances. There is humor, sadness, love, loss and the joy that Precious Ramotswe finds in life and in Botswana.
This is one of those series that I’m not sure I’d enjoy as much if I read them as opposed to listening to them. Lisette Lecat does such a great job of creating distinctive voices for the characters and energizing them with individual personalities it’s just a pleasure for me to listen to her. I just giggle every time I hear her say “Ninety Seven Percent”. One of the reasons I like listening to this series is that I’m unfamiliar with the pronunciation of the names and places so it’s nice to not have to struggle with that aspect. I mean I seriously would have had no idea where to start with pronouncing “Tlokweng Road”.
The stories fit perfectly with the way I listen to my audiobooks. My listening time is pretty much limited to the times I’m in my car by myself, which means morning and afternoon drives between home and the train station and general driving around town time. Because of that I listen in fairly short 10 to 15 minute increments. These books are fairly light and slower paced so they really lend themselves to that type of listening format.
When I heard that HBO was adapting this series for television I was a bit leery of how it would turn out. I’ve only watched the first episode, but I can say that I think they did an excellent job of casting the major roles. Someday I’ll watch the HBO series.
Alexander McCall Smith speaks about Precious Ramotswe’s Botswana in this 2008 Times Online article.
The Author’s website at Random House is a great source for more information about Alexander McCall Smith and this as well as his other series.
My favorite part there is a useful list of What’s What and Who’s Who related to The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.
If you read this series, I hope you’re looking forward to The Double Comfort Safari Club as much as I am. If you haven’t read any or only some of the books, I’d strongly encourage you to try the audiobooks read by Lisette Lecat. They’re truly a treat.