In November when I went to the book sale (which has been mentioned several times in my previous posts) I came across Alexender McCall Smith’s “The No.1 ladies detective agency” in the fiction pile. However, I did mot pick it up for some reason. It was only after I returned home that I got to know it is, after all, an interesting and well-written book.
So off I went, marking it on my to-read list. As soon as my exams ended my flat-mate and I went trotting up Pali Hill to our local librarian and book-seller. I picked up this book after making him search for at least 10 minutes.
The copy I picked up has an interesting artwork on the cover too. Very bright and very African. However, I might have dismissed as children’s fiction if I didn’t know better.
McCall Smith’s first in the series revolves around Mma Ramotswe and her detective agency in Botswana. She is the finest in the business and not just because she is the only female detective there. Time and again she proves how wit and presence of mind can solve cases which look like they have no apparent solution.
As most detective books, this is enjoyable, even if it is not gripping in the same way as a Sherlock Holmes is. The mysteries and crimes in the book – yes there are more than one – are not as sinister, though they are crimes nonetheless. The good thing about is that it talks about several cases, one effortlessly flowing into the next one. And the language is neither as difficult as an old classic, nor abusive like the recently popular Scandinavian mysteries.
One thing I noticed was how Mma Ramotswe’s ambition has been encouraged through the book. Through characters such as her father and then her friend, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni – Smith has shown how men are not typecast in just a patriarchal role. However, the fact that Mma is a mother figure – loving and lovable has been proved with instances such as one where she decides to not punish a fraud accused since he has a family to look after. It is more fun this way, probably. Imagining a plump woman doing the dirty work – putting hardened criminals and newbies behind bars.
I can only decide about the whole series after I read some of his other works though. Anyone who has read them, please suggest some/ tell me if I should stay away. Till then I might give in to temptation and download the series (starring Jill Scott as Mma Ramotswe) for my viewing pleasure.