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The Kalahari Typing School for Men
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The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
For All Confidential Matters and Inquiries
Satisfaction Guaranteed for all Parties
Under Personal Management


The phenomenal success of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency continues with the bestselling Kalahari Typing School for Men, the fourth book in the series.

Mma Precious Ramotswe is content. Her business is well established with many satisfied customers, and in her mid-thirties (“the finest age to be”) she has a house, two adopted children, a fine fianc¨¦. But, as always, there are troubles. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has not set the date for their marriage. Her able assistant, Mma Makutsi, wants a husband. And worse, a rival detective agency has opened in town—an agency that does not have the gentle approach to business that Mma Ramotswe’s does. But, of course, Precious will manage these things, as she always does, with her uncanny insight and her good heart.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Story to Make You Smile
    Fourth in a series about The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency of Botswana, The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith is an easy read. There is nothing terribly exciting or riveting about this novel, but the simple storyline will make you smile.

    In The Kalahari Typing School for Men Mma Precious Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutsi run a detective agency. Business is slow and a competitor has moved into town so the ladies are forced to develop new ways to earn business and money. Mma Ramotswe investigates a complicated case that requires her to use intuition, tact and foresight. Mma Makutsi creates an entirely new way to make money that will also help elevate her from the ranks of assistant detective and help her lead a more full life.

    Being perceptive of human behavior, Mma Makutsi sees many men around her falling behind in the business world because of their inability to type. They do not want to take classes and be shown up by women, so they end up falling behind technologically. Being a top graduate of secretarial school, Mma Makutsi decides to open a typing classes geared specifically for men. She is able to make use of her contacts at The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and from her secretarial schooldays and suddenly she is in business and finding renewed purpose in her life.

    As in many good tales, the storylines of Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi become more and more interwoven as the story progresses. The Kalahari Typing School for Men reads like a children's fable written for adults. At no point will the reader be challenged but reading the novel is a pleasure, as Smith's novel reads with the rhythm of life in Botswana....more info

  • Good, but not really any different than the first three
    I had been meaning to finish this book for a while. It was good. I liked it but didn't love it. This is the fourth in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. What made the first few so enjoyable (the simplicity of the story/characters/mysteries) suddenly felt dull to me in this installment. So I tossed to book aside with only about 50 pages left to finish, not really caring whether or not Mma Ramotswe got married or whether or not any of the cases got resolved. I did go back to it over the weekend simply because I was in dire need for something to read and couldn't figure out which book I wanted to crack into. In the end: Happy Botswana Ending. Was I expecting anything different? The next one in the series, Full Cupboard of Life, sounds just as exiting as the rest: Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni installs a new seatbelt into Mma Ramotswe's van, Mma Makutsi's new house will have running water, everyone drinks a lot of bush tea. Alexander McCall Smith is a wonderful storyteller but his books should be reserved for when you're coming out of a depression and want something simple and happy to read....more info
  • The Second Best Book in the Series
    I found this book the second best book in the series of the Number 1 Lady's Dectective Agency. It is quaint and touching. It deals with modern issues solved with age old respect and dignity....more info
  • Read the entire series!
    People often recommend books to me when they realize how much I read, and most recommendations are not to my taste. But I am forever grateful to the person to recommended these books to me! I have read them all, and I waited with anticipation for each new book to come out. The stories are so sweet, wise, affirming, and touching, and the writing so simply poetic! I have really enjoyed getting to know Precious and her friends and clients. I gave one of the books to my mother, and she called me to request that I get the rest of them for her! She marvels that such a story was written by a white man, but she has become a fan nevertheless. I hope that you will be, too. ...more info
  • Further development of situations and characters
    Precious Ramotswe returns in the fourth book of this series with financial problems looming overhead. She feels threatened by the appearance of a male detective agency whose proprietor demeans her business. She continues with her cases, however, and shows her wisdom in solving the problems of a man who is wracked by guilt over previous indiscretions. Her secretary, Mma Makutsi, needs more money so she decides to open a typing school for men who have been too embarrassed to pursue a womanly skill, but who need to know how to type in order to run their computers. Much to her surprise, one of her students falls in love with her, and romance enters Mma Mukutsi's life for the first time. Author McCall Smith continues to develop the characters and situations in this series which is set against the backdrop of Batswana. ...more info
  • Yet another good summer read from Dr. Smith
    This book is a real change in pace and style for Dr. Smith's series. Unlike the earlier three novels, this one builds more on
    character development and lessons in real life rather than the challenges in detecting the subtle goings on in Gabrone.

    As always we have the same characters, Manly Maketoni, 97% Makutsi, Christian Charlie and his brother, as always Precious.

    The novel has two main plots, one around how Makutsi becomes her own boss and the other around how a person repents for his sins done earlier. The character development as always is excellent but repetitive for the reader of the earlier novels. All though, I was shocked by how Ms. Makutsi responded at the end (no spoliers...).

    A very quick read for the #1 Ladies loyalists and an interesting eye-opener to a new series to the #1 Ladies neophyte.

    Fred Gabrone Loving Sanford...more info
  • Brilliant Characters, A Compelling Read - Book 4 Is A Winner
    Mma. Precious Ramotswe muses, "I must remember how fortunate I am in this life, at every moment, but especially now, sitting on the veranda of my home in Zebra Drive, and looking up at the high sky of Botswana, so empty that the blue is almost white." Our wise protagonist has much to be thankful for, indeed. Now in her late thirties, ("the very finest age to be"), Mma Ramotswe is a successful entrepreneur, a top notch detective, the proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, engaged to be married to the wonderful Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, (the best mechanic in Botswana), foster mother of two lively children, homeowner, and a most respected member of the community.

    Her life is not free of care, however. There are problems with her adopted son, a date has yet to be set for her wedding, and friend and colleague Grace Makutsi is having trouble finding a husband. Savvy assistant detective Makutsi, who has picked-up business acumen from her boss, opens the "Kalahari Typing School For Men," with a little help from her friends. This special all male school is necessary, as the guys are ashamed to sit in class with women. When Mma Makutsi is not busy looking for suitors, she is searching for potential students.

    And across town there is new found competition for the Ladies' Detective Agency - always No. 1 in my book. Until recently, Precious Ramotswe had the only PI office in Gaborone. However, the "Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency" has just opened its doors and is ready for business. Arrogant, aggressive Cephas Buthelezi, the owner, a retired NYC cop, and a male chauvinist if there ever was one, is a master at fighting dirty. He has reopened the issue about a woman's place in the sleuth business...and is making inroads with the local clientele. He advises potential customers to, "Entrust your enquiries to a MAN!" Needless to say, the financial problems which have longed plagued Mma Ramotswe, significantly increase with the competition.

    New cases include, a well-to-do engineer from Lobatse, who hires Mma Ramotswe to assist him in righting the wrongs he committed in the past. And, a potentially philandering husband is investigated with disturbing results.

    Author Alexander McCall Smith's series is so outstanding because of his phenomenal characters, although the storylines are fascinating, and his elegant but simple writing style makes reading enjoyable. Precious Ramotswe is a jewel - an absolute original. Extremely intelligent, with outstanding intuitive capabilities, she possesses a keen perception of the human character. Along with perseverance, and a strong set of values, Mma Ramotswe inspires trust in most all who meet her. She is also good woman with a kind heart. Most inspiring is her deep and abiding love for Africa, and for Botswana and its people in particular. "They are my people, my brothers and sisters. It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries of their lives. That is what I am called to do."
    JANA...more info
  • Another Little Gem
    This is the fourth installment in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series and once again Mr. Smith gives us a dose of African pleasure.

    Precious Ramotswe finds a cure for her fiance Mr. J.L.B. Maketoni's depression and they are back on track. Her assistant Mma Makutsi starts her own typing class for men and falls in love. We get to know the apprentist mechanics a bit better and meet a few more interesting characters in search of mystery solutions from the detective agency. A few scenes are laugh out loud funny. Another enjoyable and easy read from Alexander McCall Smith.

    I rated this book one star less than the others in this series because of the fact that I felt portions of this book were repeats of the prior ones. I wish that author's who write a series would just allow the books to stand on their own without feeling the need to explain over and over again who and what the characters are. If a reader picks up the fourth book in a series without reading the first three.....isn't that the readers problem. I would have prefered more character's searching for answers than answers to questions that were already provided....more info

  • Ahhhh, a cup of tea and a book in this series
    I adore these books. Because I love giraffes, a friend gave me Tears of the Giraffe as a gift. Thus I discovered the series, and have read every installment. The pace is so relaxing without dragging that they are perfect beach/mountain/vacation reads, or an afternoon treat on a rainy day. Love the books, Alexander!...more info
  • Charming, but with a touch of condescension
    I've read all four of the Alexander McCall Smith books centering on Mma Ramotswe and her No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and I plan on reading the fifth, so clearly (to me, anyway) there is something attractive, charming, and addictive about these little literary gems.

    The gentle wisdom of the main characters, the insights into human nature that are revealed in the succession of episodes, the often lyrical references to life, nature, and culture in Botwana, all of these things render Smith's books fun to read and at times spiritually uplifting. This latest episode, featuring the professional and romantic adventures of Mma Rowatswe's trusted assistant, the typing prodigy Mma Makutsi, is every bit as charming and readable as the first three books in the series, so one cannot say that Smith is losing his touch as he cranks out book after book.

    There are, however, some troubling aspects to this series that I confess have come to bother me. Example: in his laudable effort to portray life in Botswana in a positive light, Smith's narrative at times takes on a kind of paternalistic tone, the subtext of which seems to be, "these people are simple, yes, but they are gentle, good, and in a kind of salt-of-the-earth way, wise." A style that apparently seeks to keep the prose simple and accessible ends up making the characters themselves often appear childlike and one-dimensional, lacking in real human depth. Because of this, I can see how these books have come to be so whole-heartedly embraced by rat-race-weary urban Western professionals daydreaming of a "simpler life and a slower pace."

    This tendency toward flattening out the stresses and complexities of life in rural Botswana would be more forgivable were it not for the fact that this is the nation with the highest rate of HIV infection on the planet. This is a startling, sad, alarming reality that probably will surprise many readers of these books, and yet this overwhelmingly serious problem is mentioned only in passing within Smith's upbeat tales about lady detectives and dedicated auto mechanics. I certainly don't expect the author to dwell in his stories upon this health catastrophe, but his failure even to allude to the problem seems to me an almost calculated part of his overall strategy of presenting a romanticized, sanitized, they're-poor-but-they're-happy image of life in Botswana.

    People who have read and appreciated all of the novels will surely interject at this point at least one, "Yeah, but..." Noteworthy among these could be the fact that in a previous book the principal male character, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni (always, cutely, referred to by this full title), is diagnosed with clinical depression. Yes, this is strikingly "real to life," certainly, but even here the simplistic, dumbed-down approach to human problems advanced by Smith emerges, as Matekoni's apparently severe depression is completely obliterated almost instantly through a simple presciption for antidepressant drugs. Anyone familiar with the issue of depression knows that overcoming this malady is seldom so simple as is portrayed in Smith's novel. But problems in Smith's Botswana tend generally toward rapid and total resolution, much in the manner of prime time television episodes.

    Still, I confess that I find these novels to be soothing and easy bedtime reading, and I'm sure I'll end up buying and reading the next one, despite my growing reservations about Smith's overall project....more info
  • A Wayside Stop in Paradise
    I'm a neophyte to this series. I guess I walked into the middle of the party, since The Typing School is number 4 of 7, to date. This book was easy reading, comforting, polite, and harking back to another less nasty age of human interaction. No grisly murders or inhuman brutality going on here. Not much crime either. But we have a strong moral compass monitoring the daily melodramas of life in the well-drawn person of Precious Romotswe, and we have an exotic backdrop of Botswana, which is described with precision as a lovely wayside stop in paradise that is slowly caving in to the vagaries of "modern" behavior (read rudeness).
    I really liked the Typing School and recommend it as a pleasant resting place between more meaty fare. I also can see how indulging in such bon mots and straightforward writing found here can become habit-forming. ...more info
  • Another Gem
    How to express to everyone how happy this series makes me. The characters continue to delight, like visiting a wonderful group of friends that you can't get enough of. It is McCall Smith's valentine to Botswana, and Precious and her crew don't disappoint. For me,the cases almost become secondary to the personal lives that slowly reveal with each subsequent book, which is why I've said nothing about what this case involves. Just know that if you're as big of a fan as I am, you'll certainly want to read this....more info
  • Enjoy with a steaming cup of red bush tea......
    In Alexander McCall Smith's latest installment, the reader is once again treated to the unfolding life of Mma Ramotswe and the cast of characters that make up the world of the No. 1 Ladies Dectective Agency. In this story Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni has recovered from his debiltating depression and lends a wonderful richness to the storyline. His character as always is understated and charming and we wonder when the the engaged couple will actually get married. Mma Makutsi figures prominently in the plot and not only does the reader get to know her character more deeply but McCall Smith is able through her musings make several profound comments on the state of women in society today. A new dectective who is both arrogant and inept is introduced and it plays nicely in a humorous way against the womens thoughts about their place in soceity. Mma Ramotswe's primary case involves a successful man who wishes to atone for his past errors and in doing so is able to move on with his life. This is easy enjoyable reading, with beautiful prose and descriptions of life in Botswana and thoughts on life that apply to us all. A pleasure!...more info
  • Listen to the book!
    There is something about these books that really resonates with some readers. After reading the first novel, I did not really jump on the collective Botswana Bandwagon... I thought the books were nice, but found nothing exceptional about them. I am glad that I decided to continue with Book 2 though (that was my favorite so far in the series!) I decided to pick up the other books, starting with book 2, on Audio CD. I am much happier with the Audio CD versions than I was with reading the book. I found that reading the stories was a little tedious for me: The writing is very simplistic, and oftentimes the stories are very predictable. While these do show up in the Audio CD, I do not find myself as distracted by them as I did when I read the first two in the series. The reader, Lisette Lecat is absolutely superb. She is a native South African, and spent a number of years in Botswana. She knows the rhythm patterns and speech patterns of the people, and she distinguishes each character with a certain voice. This skill makes the dialogues much more interesting than reading them on the page, and her general narration really make the stories come alive for me. If it were not for her reading the books, I do not know if I would have stuck with this series.

    The story of _Kalahari Typing School for Men_ was much like its immediate predecessor, _Morality for Beautiful Girls_. The novel focuses a great amount on the development of some characters, and leaves others "out to dry", and ultimately strays away from the things that made books 1 and 2 of the series so good: the cases, the interactions, and the values of the Botswana people. That is not to say that this book does not have any detective cases, but I find the novels have shifted from their original focus. However, one thing that I did like about this book is the increased role and development of Mma Makutsi. She is a great characters, and until book 3, Mma Makutsi existed in the shadows. I look forward to seeing her develop more in the next books.

    I plan to LISTEN to book 5 very soon....more info

  • That is a well known fact.. indeed!
    This series gets better and better. This fourth book took another turn which I think is a good idea! It is good!!

    It is not only about Mma Ramotswe but also those who are part of her life, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, Mma Makutsi, the apprentices, the children. Each book tells us a little more about the people in her life, and this book is about Mma Makutsi. What a delightful character, if you think Mma Ramotswe is clever and funny, wait to learn more about Mma Makutsi. I just laughed and could imagine her walking with her new green shoes that usually tell a lot about their owner! Just those simple remarks that we might neglect sometimes but it is what makes the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency so famous and successful.

    Mma Makutsi opens her own project which proves to be as successful and she falls in love for the first time! Just charming! Watching her dance and flutter...

    There is also the new detective agency, but that proved a failure compared to Mma's insight and sincerity. It is a small country where everybody knows everbody... you just need to ask keeping in mind the Botswana morality.

    Mr. Smith never fails to state his views on humanity, culture and even politics, but you never get bored of those remarks, you expect them as you would know that this is what Mma Ramotswe would say in this and that situation!

    Still, there is no wedding date! ...more info
  • Another Wonderful Book in the Series
    Even though this book is the fourth in the series about the No. 1 Ladies' Detection Agency, it could easily be picked up and read, not having read the previous three books. The reason is that the author starts the book by giving a good summary, in several pages, of the most important points of the previous books. As good as each book in the series has been, it seems as if every new book is even better!

    This book imparts the wisdom of experience through the characters. I actually cried with the characters when they cried. This book finds Precious Ramotswe still unmarried, and Mma Makutsi starting a typing school, and with a boyfriend. The cases taken on are as interesting as always, and their resolutions impart wisdom to the reader. This book left me immediately eager to pick up the fifth book in the series....more info

  • A Unique Pleasure!
    The Kalahari Typing School for Men, like its predecessors, offers a unique reading pleasure. It is full of wonderful characters against the sunny background of Botswana. Precious Ramotswe(the No. 1 Ladies' Detective) gives gentle counsel to her friends and presents clever solutions to her clients in often minor, but always intriguing cases. The real treasure of this book, like the others in this series, is the warmth of the main characters as they deal with each other and the world they live in. ...more info
  • Delightful Book
    I loved this book. I actually joined his fan club after reading it. He's a delightful author, and writes about good people. It's slow paced, and has a feeing thats vast and slow, yet not boring, but how I imagine how life in Botswana might be. I want to go there now. I just bought my fourth book of his....more info
  • I liked it.
    "The Kalahari Typing School for Men" belongs to the category of feel-good, heartwarming, inspirational and life-affirming fiction. Reading it reminds me of books of similar genre such as "The Alchemist". But what sets it apart from the rest are its simple yet powerful writing, unique suburban setting in Botswana Africa and captivating detective storyline charted forward by Precious Ramotswe. The characterization of Precious Romatswe is so effectively done that the reader genuinely feels for her, thinks like her and connects with her. Plot aside, what I find so refreshing in this book is the nostalgic feel for the old simple way of life in Botswana when foreign influences were kept to a minimal and people upheld morals and traditional values.

    The novel sends an upliftingly positive message to the readers and incorporates various insights on life, that are universally true and equally relevant, be it in Africa, the West, Japan, China or Southeast Asia. One such insight that remains etched in my mind is, "... it is possible to change the world, if one is determined enough, and if one sees with sufficient clarity just what it is that has to be changed". In a nutshell, this book successfully integrates humour with solemnness. You will undoubtedly crave for more in this series of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency....more info
  • Probably the best introduction to the series
    This first came to my attention as an audiobook. I was checking out the public library for suitable listening material for my two youngest children, and noticed this intriguing title on the adults' audiobook shelf. Hmmm. What on earth could a book with such a title be about? Well, one way to find out, and fortunately it's free at the library, so I took it home with me.

    Two chapters later and I was hooked on the #1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Incidentally, if you have not yet heard the audiobook, I recommend it, too. It's read by Lisette Lecat, a talented South African actress who does all the voices and accents, making you feel as if you were really there. In fact, all the books in this series are available on audiobook read by Miss Lecat.

    I still recommend "The Kalahari Typing School" as a first-read when telling people they really HAVE to discover this series. However, I will say that as in several other well-known series, it doesn't much matter where you start, since each book subtly refers back to the previous ones throughout the story. This is especially helpful when encountering the main characters for the first time in each book....more info
  • Old and New Affairs
    "The Kalahari Typing School for Men" is Alexander McCall Smith's fourth novel in the detective series that began with "The Ladies' Number 1 Detective Agency." In this new installment, the detective cases are not so much crime stories as social and personal situations for private investigator Precious Ramotswe to resolve with her psychological insight and bold maneuvering.

    The plot component that gives the novel its name concerns the effort of Mma Makutsi, the Agency's skillful office assistant, to found her own business, with unexpected personal consequences. Another new entrepreneur is not so welcome by the ladies - a flashy and contemptuous outsider who sets up a competing detective agency in Gaborone. In the novel's most serious subplot, an important client hires Mma Ramotswe to help him redress some wrongs in his past. The resolution of that case depends upon Mma Ramotswe's wise sense of justice and compassion.

    In author Smith's charming series, the environment and culture of Botswana, as embodied in Mma Ramotswe and her friends and associates, is as compelling as the mystery. That is especially true of this volume. I like these books as much for their portrayal of Mma Ramotswe, for their evocation of Botswana and Africa, for their moral authority and psychological delicacy, for their depictions of community (with its strengths and weaknesses), for their generous humanity and genuine convictions, as for their detection. These books have heart. I especially like the narrative voice and prose style, deceptively simple in service of portraying its subjects, and often imbued with poetic lyricism about the landscapes of Africa....more info

  • Love Comes to Mma Makutsi!
    In this hilarious and yet touching addition to the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series, the ultra-proper and ultra-serious Mma Makutsi, she of the very large glasses and formidable secretarial powers, has Met A Man! As devotees of the series know, Mma Makutsi is fast approaching that age where men no longer want to marry, and she has not been lucky in love.

    Will this time be different? Or...as the reader and Mma Ramotswe fear...has the very careful Mma Makutsi been caught in the cluthes of a Bad Man?

    That's only one of the connundrums in this highly entertaining book, that finds Precious Ramotswe still unmarried, still solving mysteries, and strained to her last nerve by a male detective who is trying to usurp her business.

    Absolutely a gem from page one to the end. This is simply a series NOT to be missed....more info