Sep 3, 2007

[Books] The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencyI rarely pick up books because they're popular - you can call me a bit of a romantic in that regard. I prefer books that are personally introduced to me, the kinds of titles your friends feel passionate about and chose to share with you out of the blue. Hence, titles that become international bestsellers don't catch my attention until someone tells me about it directly.

This was not the case with the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which really just caught my attention and drove me insane with curiosity. No one I knew had read them just yet and so no one could share their opinions with me. Eventually, I couldn't bear it and I broke my own rule about the need for personal introductions and picked up the title. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.

The first book in the series, also named The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, was a surprisingly good read and I'm all the more glad for deciding to risk it. Sure, I knew it was already popular since the author had already written a number of books in the series hence it must have been making money but that was no guarantee that I'd like it.

The books are typically tagged as mystery novels since the principal character Mma Precious Ramotswe is a detective after all and she has started the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," but the book is a lot more than just Sherlock Holmes repackaged as an African woman in Botswana.

The book feels like a collection of short stories since the author chooses to tell the tales of several cases alongside little flashbacks and back stories for the major characters, given them greater depth and making the whole thing feel like a collection of African fairy tales. He does hit in a deceptively simplistic manner which belies the true complexity of the story as a whole. It all seems to fit the notion of how classical Africa has always been a land of known for its stories and rich cultural history.

The books are rather short and seem to be easy reads but personally I felt they seemed much longer - and not in a negative sense. You get the urge to attempt to peer around the corner as it were to see if you can figure out anything deeper beyond the end of certain chapters but there's really not much else at least from an explicitly stated perspective.

I can hardly wait to start on the next novel when I have the time.

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