"A literary confection of . . . gossamer deliciousness. . . . There is no end to the pleasure that may be extracted from [this book]."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Enchanting. . . . In the Company of Cheerful Ladies may be the most compelling of the lot." —Daily News
"Put on the teakettle, find your place in the sun and settle in for a genteel journey. . . . McCall Smith has brewed up a gem of a story as rich as . . . red bush tea."
—Rocky Mountain News
"Beguiling, lyrical. . . . Cheerful Ladies is blessed with . . . McCall Smith's richly detailed portraits of life in Africa and his flair for storytelling with an engaging cast of fully realized characters." —Los Angeles Times
The most heartening recent trend in detective fiction is the ever-gathering fame of Botswana private investigator Mma Ramotswe. Alexander McCall Smith's leisurely paced No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series stands in sharp contrast to the adrenaline overdrive of many conventional mystery thrillers, yet readers relish every new installment. The reasons for Precious Ramotswe's appeal seem mysterious, but they're actually not much different than the roots of Miss Marple's resilient fame: Whodunit fans want to share the company of companionable sleuths. In this installment of the internationally acclaimed series, Precious must cope with a strange Zebra Drive intruder, the appearance of a mysterious pumpkin, and the unexpected elopement of a motor-works employee.
The ''No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency'' series is a literary confection of such gossamer deliciousness that one feels it can only be good for one. Fortunately, since texts aren't cakes, there is no end to the pleasure that may be extracted from these six books.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
In this sixth entry in McCall Smith's consistently delightful series, Botswana detective Precious Ramotswe, the traditionally built-and newly married-owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, is saddled with a surfeit of challenging cases and personal crises. There has been an intruder in her home (he managed to escape, but left a telltale pair of trousers in his wake). And the levelheaded sleuth is flustered by an encounter with a man from her past. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe's husband, master mechanic Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, is neck-deep in work after the resignation of one of his apprentices, who has become romantically entangled with a married woman (Mma Ramotswe and assistant detective Grace Makutsi slyly gather the scurrilous details). Scotsman McCall Smith, who was born in what is now Zimbabwe, renders colorful characters with names that trip off the tongue. Among the new arrivals: Mma Makutsi's new suitor and dance partner, Phuti Radiphuti, a stuttering furniture salesman with two left feet; and Mr. Polopetsi, a wrongfully imprisoned pharmacist Mma Ramotswe deems worthy of a second chance. As always, when troubles are brewing, nothing puts things in perspective like time spent on the verandah with a cup of bush tea. Amid the hilarious scenarios and quiet revelations are luminous descriptions of Botswana, land of wide-open spaces and endless blue skies. The prolific McCall Smith dispenses tales from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency at a rate of one per year (he's also author of a second detective series featuring Scottish-American moral philosopher Isabel Dalhousie). That's good news for loyal fans, who eagerly await new adventures with Precious Ramotswe. Agent, Robin Straus. (Apr. 19) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The sixth entry in Smith's always delightful "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series sees the return of newly married Precious Ramotswe, with husband Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, his apprentices, and assistant detective Grace Makutsi in tow. The group embarks on another set of clever and amusing Botswana adventures that kick off with an intruder in Mma Ramotswe's home and proceeds to a succession of other dilemmas: Mr. Matekoni's apprentice Charliekeeps company with a mysterious older woman and quits his position, Mma Ramotswe and her assistant encounters a good-hearted man with a dark past, and Mma Makutsi reluctantly begins dance lessons with a stuttering stranger. Smith remains true to form in this clever and wonderfully written installment; the characters are deliciously human, and the multiple plots mesh together seamlessly. An essential read for series fans and mystery buffs alike, this is highly recommended for all public libraries. Smith lives in Scotland. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 12/04.]-Nicole A. Cooke, Montclair State Univ. Lib., Upper Montclair, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-This sixth entry in the series does not disappoint. But this time, Mma Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana, and now married to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, is filled with worry over personal problems. At the same time, her assistant, Mma Makutsi, is preoccupied with finding a husband, and it appears that Charlie, the apprentice at the auto shop, has run off with an older woman. Large cups of bush tea remain the main source of relief for thirst and for solving mysteries. Among the new characters is Mr. Polopetsi, hired to work at Tlokweng Road after Mma Ramotswe knocks him off his bicycle with her tiny white van. Although the agency takes on some criminal cases, most of the plot revolves around the everyday dilemmas of life. For Mma Ramotswe, the right course of action is always the moral one, usually reached with much reflection and humor. Good reading, sound reasoning, cheerful and faithful friends, and descriptions of the much-loved landscape of Botswana make this an appealing novel.-Sheila Janega, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The finest hour yet for Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which is tracking a defalcating Zambian financier even though it "preferred to deal with more domestic matters." Her marriage to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, agrees with Mma Precious Ramotswe, but if anything it's increased her caseload. The trousers left behind by a housebreaker who hid under her bed have been replaced by a ripe pumpkin. Charlie, the older apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, has gone off to live with a rich woman who drives a Mercedes-Benz. The tenants in Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's rental property have set up an illegal bar. Worst of all, Mma Ramotwse's first husband, abusive jazzman Note Mokoti, has reappeared with some most unwelcome news. Though all these problems are miles from the mysteries typical of the genre, all of them except for one rather big unresolved question yield to the patient wiles of Mma Ramotswe and her assistant, Grace Makutsi, the pride of Botswana Secretarial College, whose methods emphasize solving problems over fixing guilt. Along the way, Mma Makutsi will find love in an unexpected place; Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni will find a replacement for Jimmy; and the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency will almost find that Zambian financier. Smith (see also p. 314) maintains the most civilized standards in the annals of detective fiction. But now, for the first time, he plots as if he actually means it.