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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

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The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a series of twelve novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

s by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander "Sandy" McCall Smith, CBE, FRSE, is a Rhodesian-born Scottish writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. In the late 20th century, McCall Smith became a respected expert on medical law and bioethics and served on British and international committees...

. The agency is located in Gaborone
Gaborone
' is the capital and largest city of Botswana with a population of 191,776 based on a 2006 survey, about 10% of the total population of Botswana....

, capital of Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

. Its founder is a Motswana woman, Mma Precious Ramotswe, who features as the stories' protagonist and main detective. The episodic novels are as much about the adventures and foibles of different characters as they are about solving mysteries. Each book in the series follows on from the previous book. They have been adapted for radio, television, and internet.

Main

  • Mma Precious Ramotswe, the first female private investigator
    Private investigator
    A private investigator , private detective or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private detectives/investigators often work for attorneys in civil cases. Many work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious claims...

     in Botswana.
  • Mma Grace Makutsi, the Agency's secretary and Mma Ramotswe's assistant.
  • Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, mechanic and proprietor of Tlokweng
    Tlokweng
    Tlokweng is a town located directly adjacent to the capital of Botswana, Gaborone, in the South-East District. It can be considered part of the conurbation of Gaborone. Tlokweng stands on the other side of the river, and is on the road to the border with South Africa, the border post being just...

     Road Speedy Motors, Mma Ramotswe's suitor and eventual husband. He is always referred to in these novels by this very formal title.
  • Motholeli, a 12-year old girl, and her five-year old brother, Puso, two orphans who come to live with Mr. J.L.B Matekoni as foster children, shortly after he becomes engaged to Mma Precious Ramotswe in Tears of the Giraffe.

Secondary

  • Mma Silvia Potokwane, matron of an orphanage east of Gaborone
    Gaborone
    ' is the capital and largest city of Botswana with a population of 191,776 based on a 2006 survey, about 10% of the total population of Botswana....

    . She bribes Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni into fixing all of the old and failing equipment at the Orphan Farm with her widely known fruit cake. She is known to be very forceful in getting what she wants, such as giving Mma Makutsi advice on the planning of her wedding, thereby receiving an invitation to the wedding.

  • Charlie, the older of the two apprentices in Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's garage.
  • Fanwell, the younger apprentice, always referred to as such in the earlier novels. His name is not mentioned until Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
    Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
    Tea Time for the Traditionally Built is the tenth in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Gaborone, Botswana, and featuring the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.-Plot summary:...

    . He lives in a small house with his grandmother and his several younger brothers and sisters. Although he is slightly more serious than his older friend, Charlie, he still frequently discusses girls with Charlie.
  • Mr. Polopetsi, an assistant to Mma Ramotswe and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. He is introduced in In The Company of Cheerful Ladies
    In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
    In the Company of Cheerful Ladies is the sixth in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Gaborone, Botswana, and featuring the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.-Plot introduction:...

    .
  • Phuti Radiphuti, Grace Makutsi's fiancé, introduced in In The Company of Cheerful Ladies
    In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
    In the Company of Cheerful Ladies is the sixth in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Gaborone, Botswana, and featuring the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.-Plot introduction:...

    . In The Double Comfort Safari Club
    The Double Comfort Safari Club
    The Double Comfort Safari Club is the eleventh in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Gaborone, Botswana, and featuring the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.-Plot summary:...

    , he has an accident in which he loses his foot, which causes Mma Makutsi to worry about their relationship. They are finally married in The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
    The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
    The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party is a 2011 novel by Alexander McCall Smith and the twelfth installment in the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.-Plot:...

    .
  • Violet Sephotho, Mma Makutsi's rival from the Botswana Secretarial College, introduced in In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
    In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
    In the Company of Cheerful Ladies is the sixth in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Gaborone, Botswana, and featuring the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.-Plot introduction:...

    . She returns in most books subsequent to her introduction with new schemes to ruin Mma Makusi's life with Rra Phuti Radiphuti. In The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, she is discussed as running for a parliament in an upcoming by-election but makes no direct appearance.

Themes and topics of the stories

  • Women in traditional vs. nontraditional occupations
  • Rural way of life in Southern Africa
    Southern Africa
    Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

    , including muti
    Muti
    Muti is a term for traditional medicine in Southern Africa as far north as Lake Tanganyika. The word muti is derived from the Zulu word for tree, of which the root is -thi...

  • Social relations in traditional African society
  • Christianity and traditional belief systems in contemporary Africa
  • Clinical depression
    Clinical depression
    Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

  • AIDS
    AIDS
    Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

     and AIDS orphans in Sub-saharan Africa
    Sub-Saharan Africa
    Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...


Issues addressed in the cases

  • Domestic violence
    Domestic violence
    Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence , is broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation...

  • Forgiveness
    Forgiveness
    Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as 'to grant free pardon and to give up all...

     and restitution
    Restitution
    The law of restitution is the law of gains-based recovery. It is to be contrasted with the law of compensation, which is the law of loss-based recovery. Obligations to make restitution and obligations to pay compensation are each a type of legal response to events in the real world. When a court...

  • Marital infidelity
    Adultery
    Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...


Television series



The BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 and American television network HBO filmed a series based on the books. It stars Jill Scott
Jill Scott
Jill Scott is an American soul and R&B singer-songwriter, poet, and actress. In 2007, Scott made her cinematic debut in the films Hounddog and in Tyler Perry's feature film, Why Did I Get Married? That year, her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, was released on...

 as Mma. Ramotswe and was shot on location in Botswana. The 109-minute pilot was written by Richard Curtis
Richard Curtis
Richard Whalley Anthony Curtis, CBE is a New Zealand-born British screenwriter, music producer, actor and film director, known primarily for romantic comedy films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, Love Actually and The Girl in the Café, as well as the hit...

 and Anthony Minghella
Anthony Minghella
Anthony Minghella, CBE was an English film director, playwright and screenwriter. He was Chairman of the Board of Governors at the British Film Institute between 2003 and 2007....

, who also directed. The seven 60-minute episodes were written and directed by others.

Radio series


McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander "Sandy" McCall Smith, CBE, FRSE, is a Rhodesian-born Scottish writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. In the late 20th century, McCall Smith became a respected expert on medical law and bioethics and served on British and international committees...

 himself dramatised the series for BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

. Seven series have been broadcast, the first beginning on 10 September 2004, the last ending on 4 November 2011. The series encompass the first to twelfth
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party is a 2011 novel by Alexander McCall Smith and the twelfth installment in the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.-Plot:...

 books. They star Claire Benedict as Mma Ramotswe (except the 2010 episodes).

Episodes:
  1. The Daddy
  2. The Bone
  3. The Maid
  4. Tears of the Giraffe
  5. The Chief Justice of Beauty
  6. The Confession
  7. The Kalahari Typing School for Men
  8. The Admirer
  9. How to Handle Men through the Application of Psychology
  10. House of Hope
  11. The Return of Note
  12. The Ceremony
  13. There Is No Such Thing as Free Food
  14. The Best Profession for a Blackmailer
  15. A Very Rude Woman
  16. Talking Shoes
  17. The Miracle at Speedy Motors
  18. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
  19. The Seller of Beds
  20. An Exceptionally Wicked Lady
  21. The Double Comfort Safari Club
  22. A Late Van Just Glimpsed
  23. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding

Cookbook


A cookbook associated with the novels was published in 2009; Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook by Stuart Brown, with a foreword by Alexander McCall Smith.

External links