The Colors of All the Cattle (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #19)

The Colors of All the Cattle (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #19)

by Alexander McCall Smith


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Precious Ramotswe dips her toe into the world of politics in the newest addition to the beloved and best-selling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

When Mma Potokwane suggests to Mma Ramotswe that she run for a seat on the City Council, Mma Ramotswe is at first unsure. But when she learns about the proposed construction of the flashy Big Fun Hotel next to a graveyard, she allows herself to be persuaded. Her opponent is none other than Violet Sephotho, who is in the pocket of the hotel developers. Although Violet is intent on using every trick in the book to secure her election, Mma Ramotswe refuses to promise anything beyond what she can deliver--hence her slogan: "I can't promise anything--but I shall do my best." To everyone's surprise, she wins.
     As it turns out, politics does not agree with Mma Ramotswe. Though everyone is supportive, she eventually resigns. She thinks there will be a new election, but she discovers that the rules state that in such an event, the runner-up automatically takes the seat. Violet is triumphant, and sure that she will get the Big Fun Hotel planning application through without a hitch. But Mma Makutsi and Mma Potokwane are not about to make it easy for her.
     Through it all, Mma Ramotswe uses her good humor and generosity of spirit to help the community navigate divisive issues, and proves that honesty and compassion will always carry the day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524747800
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Series: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series , #19
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 53,389
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH is the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels and a number of other series and stand-alone books. His works have been translated into more than forty languages and have been best sellers throughout the world. He lives in Scotland.


Edinburgh, Scotland

Date of Birth:

August 24, 1948

Place of Birth:


Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "The Colors of All the Cattle"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Alexander McCall Smith.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The nineteenth installment of this beloved series finds Mma Ramotswe finds herself persuaded to run in a local election. She also has to contain Charlie, who is trying to prove himself a good detective—and a good man.

This guide is designed to enhance your reading group’s focus on some of the main concepts in this book and to enable readers to explore and share different perspectives. Feel free to wander in your discussions, and use this as a guideline only!

1. The women’s magazine Mma Makutsi reads to Mma Ramotswe challenges a person’s achievements in life and suggests that if a person has not accomplished much, their life is pointless. Mma Potokwane dismisses the magazine as rubbish, but how does the article affect Mma Ramotswe? What do you think about this idea?

2. Why does Mma Ramotswe demur when Mma Potokwane first suggests Precious run for a seat on the council? What changes her mind?

3. What is Mma Ramotswe’s main motivation for being on the Gabarone town council?

4. Have you ever run for public office? What was your motivation to do so?

5. What is the Big Fun Hotel, and what are the positives and negatives presented regarding it?

6. Despite Precious’s reservations, she continues to allow herself to be persuaded by Mma Potokwane and Mma Makutsi to continue with the race. Where does she drawn the line as far as other people making decisions for her?

7. What does Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni think of his wife’s political aspirations?

8. How has the character of Charlie transformed throughout the series? How are these changes reflected in this installment?

9. Mma Ramotswe trusts Charlie to make inquiries into the case of Dr. Marang’s hit-and-run. How does this affect Charlie?

10. How was Dr. Marang’s case resolved? Do you think the perpetrator received an appropriate punishment?

11. How is Mma Ramotswe’s approach to solving cases different from Mma Makutsi’s or Charlie’s?

12. Why doesn’t Queenie-Queenie tell Charlie about her family? Should she be more open to him? How does it alter the way he treats her when he finds out?

13. What do Mma Makutsi’s shoes tell her? Do you think she listens to them?

14. What causes Mma Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti to argue? Who do you think is correct, and why?

15. Despite Violet Sephotho’s tactics, how does Mma Ramotswe win the election?

16. What happens at the first town council meeting Mma Ramotswe attends as a council member? What do you think of this outcome?

17. In the end, Mma Ramotswe’s career in politics is short-lived. Do you think she would have made a good council member? Is it possible to be bad at politics but good at representing constituents?

18. Why does Mma Ramotswe invite Charlie to stay in her home? How is this in keeping to her character?

19. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni tells his wife: “You are a heroine, Mma. You are an eighty-four-horse-power, six-cylinder heroine—you really are.” That’s the greatest compliment he can give. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

20. What is the significance of the title?

Customer Reviews

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The Colors of all the Cattle 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always turn to McCall Smith’s books when I am in need of a well written, heartwarming story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A message much needed for our time-the importance of talking listening and the reverence for forgiveness. I have read every book in this series. Every book warms my heart and enriches my soul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Choose a bad or difficult day and then pick up this lovely book to read. Doing so will lift your spirits , I promise .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When Ma Ramowathse becomes a candidate for public office, she does not promise the impossible! McCal again presents a wonderful world of the truly possible where each is treated with dignity, even loving feelings - not a world of the impossible- but rather the world we truly know!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AMS never disappoints !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again Precious Ramotswe shares with us the love of Botswana and ordinary people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Shoes whispering truths. Precious wisdom.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“There were some people cut out for politics, but she was sure she was not one of them. She believed in reconciliation and compromise; politicians seemed to believe only in the routing of their opponents. That was not the way she saw the world. It was not the way her father, the late Obed Ramotswe, had seen it either. It was not the way, she was sure, that the ancestors had viewed things. It was not the Botswana way.” The Colours of All The Cattle is the nineteenth book in the popular No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by British author, Alexander McCall Smith. Life is good in Mma Precious Ramotswe’s Botswana, although there are always some concerns: plans for a dubious hotel proposal next to the cemetery are a worry; the hit-and-run case in Mochudi, on which the police have given up, is offering no clues; and the vacancy on the city’s council may be filled by Grace Makutsi’s least favourite person if no one stands against her. It seems that the consensus of opinion of those around her is that the only person in Gabarone who could win against the notorious Violet Sepotho is Mma Ramotswe, and her bossy friend Sylvia Potokwani effectively bullies Precious into standing. Her later attempt to withdraw is sabotaged by her sense of duty to the people of Botswana. The self-appointed campaign committee has some wonderfully amusing meetings. Precious campaigns on a platform of honesty, making no rash promises, but vowing to do her best, and she is genuinely overwhelmed, and somewhat dismayed, by the response from voters. In this instalment: Charlie, detective-in-training and part-time mechanic, uses a frowned-upon (by Mma Ramotswe) method to obtain information, which gets him into more trouble than he had ever imagined possible; seeking information about a corrupt developer, Mma Makutsi naively undertakes a covert operation, but with less success that she had hoped; Charlie has a girlfriend, and this time things look serious, but Queenie-Queenie has not been entirely honest with him. Mma Makutsi’s shoes murmur advice; and Mma Ramotswe again demonstrates her unfailing kindness and generosity. As always, McCall Smith gives the reader a novel that has humour and wisdom, insightful observations and heartfelt emotion. Delightfully entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the entire series to date and enjoy them all. I find the dialogue and characters very entertaining and a pleasure to read-especially while sipping my tea!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read the whole series, and I have enjoyed this one as much as the others. The characters are great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes the plot takes a backseAt to other beautiful and worthy ideas the author wants to express. I hope we get to find out how Charlies romance turns out and I wish there was a way to impeove Fanwells living conditions . You have a big job ahead of you Mr Smith sir. Dont let us down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great read by A M Smith!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never disappointed when I catch up with Ladies, love this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago