The Number One Ladies Detective Agency: I am not sure why I picked up this book to read! From some time I had noticed the books of this series on the shelves of my friendly neighborhood library and many book stalls. I am always reluctant to choose a book that is part of a series. Still I chose The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. May be I needed a relaxing and easy read then, which the cover art of the book promised.
The story is set in Botswana. Mma Precious Ramotswe is the proprietor of the country's (probably even whole Africa's) first private detective agency run by a lady. After escaping an abusive marriage, she sets up her agency with the help of an inheritance. Initially no many clients approach her but soon business improves thanks to her sharp intellect and sincere approach. She solves many cases involving missing husbands, dishonest teenage kids, fraud imposters and so on. She finds a good friend in the neighboring motor mechanic and feelings start to develop. There is parallel track concerning a missing kid who is probably kidnapped for the purpose of witch craft.
The novel is an easy read. It captures the living conditions and culture of Botswana beautifully. The lead character is the main reason to read the novel. Mma Ramotswe is portrayed as a no nonsense African lady with huge respect for the culture and tradition she had grown up in. She has a very good sense of justice which she uses in her profession to help others. The social conditions of the continent- superstitions, gender bias, cultural differences between several ethnicities, traditions and traditional values are portrayed in a picturesque manner. But if you are looking for a conventional mystery, you are in for disappointment. The pace here is more relaxed and the plot is a bit disjointed. Unlike other detective fiction, this novel does not even have a central mystery for the detective to solve.
I liked the book and would recommend it if anybody wants a light read. But I am not sure if I will ever try the follow up books.