This is the first book in Smith’s series about a lady detective in Botswana.

Mma Precious Ramotswe is a woman in her thirties. Her father is a former miner who managed to invest his money is cows and so make a small fortune. He dies and Mma gets the cattle. His dying wish is for Mma to sell the cattle and open up a small shop. Instead Mma realizes her dream and found the first Ladies’ Detective Agency in Botswana.

The book is made up of small vignettes instead of a conventional storyline. We get to know about some of Mma Ramotswe’s more eccentric cases and about her first case. A couple of chapters are devoted to her father’s life’s story after the observation that ordinary people’s lives don’t usually get recorded. Mma Ramotswe’s brief and unhappy marriage is also told. However, except for her marriage, her life has been a happy one.

The cases aren’t flamboyant but instead quite ordinary and Mma Ramotswe can usually solve them by using a little bit of knowledge about the local people and customs. In fact, I think that these small cases are more likely to be what most detectives face, instead of the usual detective stories.

I’m afraid that I’m going to have to call these stories charming, again. I’ve never been to Botswana or Africa, so the setting seemed exotic to me. It was nice to see another side of Africa because the side I’m used to seeing is of famine and war. Here, people live ordinary lives with customs that are somewhat different than the ones I’m used to. However, underneath we’re all people.

Mma Ramotswe, and many of the other women in the book, are sexist against men. They think that men are stupid and lazy and only looking for other women. On the other hand, some of the men don’t have high opinion of women, either.

Many of the books in this series have been translated into Finnish and my read was a translation. Some of the Amazon reviewers commented that the book had simple language. If so, it didn’t show in the translation.

It’s a fair book for the first in the series.

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