The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 4)
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The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
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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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Delightfully charming...
    The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith is a delightfully charming book and is just as good as the other books in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

    Taking place in Botswana, Precious Ramotswe runs the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency with the help of her assistant, Mma. Makutsi. They now share an office with the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors company, owned by Mma. Ramotswe's finace', Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. The clients of Mma. Ramotswe have the typical problems including cheating spouses and missing persons. Her biggest case in Typing for Men involves her client, Mr. Moletelo. He wronged two individuals twenty years ago and he now wishes to make amends. It is up to Ramotswe to find these two people.

    The character of Grace Makutsi plays a more central role in Typing for Men. She now works part-time for the detective agency and part-time for the Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors company. She is struggling financially and fears that there is not enough business between the two companies to keep her employed. She has the idea to establish a typing school for men. She observed that men who use computers don't know proper keyboarding, but would be reluctant to attend a regular secretarial school. The school also provides a love interest for Makutsi, which gets a bit complicated.

    For the first time, the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency faces some competition when Mr. Buthelezi, a former CID, opens the Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency. Mr. Buthelezi purchases advertisements and gives interviews critical of amateur women detectives (a thinly veiled reference to Mma. Ramotswe). But Ramotswe can tell him why women make excellent detectives. "The trouble with men, of course, was they went about with their eyes half closed for much of the time. Sometimes Mma. Ramotswe wondered whether men actually wanted to see anything, or whether they decided that they would notice only the things that interested them."

    Typing for Men is a book that is beautiful in its simplicity--in the scenery of Botswana, in the characters, in the dialog and especially, in the simple lessons and common sense throughout. I heard a rumor that Smith's books are going to be made into a television series. If so, it will be something worth watching.
    ...more info
  • I'm totally hooked!!
    Having found this series a little less than a month ago, I find myself totally hooked on the characters and setting that Mr. McCall Smith describes. I found this book rich and "meaty" with tremendously uplifting references to the African culture and Botswana. I am thankful that this is a prolific author as my thirst for his writing is tremendous!!! It is wonderful to feel this way again, it doesn't often happen. ...more info
  • The remarkable Mma Makutsi!:5+
    This is the fourth in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and Mma Makutsi comes into her own in this installment. We have learned in previous books that this lady is very smart, very capable, and willing to work hard. While Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni is recovering from depression, Mma Makutsi takes over the running of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Suddenly, the two apprentices shape up big time, and Mma can even fix cars!

    What a remarkable lady is Mma Makutsi. Remarkable and lonely. Then she meets Mr. Bernard Selelipeng and...but, I'm getting ahead of myself. While Mma Makutsi is busy with two businesses, Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (manager of one, assistant detective with the other) she realizes she needs to open her own business if she truly wants a secure future. She hits upon the idea of a typing school for men. Classes could be held in the evening, which wouldn't interfere with her other two jobs. Mr. Bernard Selelipeng is one of her students, and therein lies that story. Two other men play a prominent role in this book: one who wants to atone for past sins; the other, a pompous windbag who thinks he is a better detective than any woman could possibly be. We also learn more about how the two orphans, Motholeli and Puso, taken in by Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni in Tears of the Giraffe, are adjusting to their new life.

    My only fear as I read these wonderful books is whether or not I'm reading/pronouncing the proper names of people and places correctly. But then, in our ever-increasing global society, we're all going to have to learn how to properly pronounce one another's names, somehow.

    Carolyn Rowe Hill
    ...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
  • Take a trip into another world
    What I love about these books is the immersion into the Botswana way of life from the Botswana point of view. McCall Smith not only visited Botswana, he lived there for some time, and it shows in every detail. The main character's being a detective lets us pry into the lives of others in her culture. As always, the Kalahari Typing School for men is not "about" having Mma Ramotswe solve a tricky locked-room mystery. It's much more about the interleaving of Western and African cultures. For example, a detective agency replaces a combination of the village grapevine and village leadership. In this installment and the previous three books, Mma Ramotswe's personal life and those of her friends gets more than equal time with the cases she solves.

    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is my favorite of the four series by McCall Smith that I have sampled. His gentle tone and leisurely pace fit the setting perfectly. I would recommend a new reader begin with the first book, as there is not a lot of explanation as to who all these characters are and how they got to where they are. Not only that, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency sets the mood for the series perfectly.

    If you are not a fan of crime stories, don't let that put you off. This is a charming fiction set in another culture with an unforgettable main character.
    ...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
  • 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
  • You'll love it
    THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN by Alexander McCall Smith. It's copyright 2002, and it was (is?) apparently a phenomenon of some sort, so you may be thinking, "Poor Michael. Living in Asia so he doesn't know what's going on anymore." Nah. I was the same way in North Carolina.

    And hey, I just read about somebody who didn't read a single word of Harry Potter until the seventh was published. Then he sat down and read the entire series in a few weeks without having to wait a year between each book. Cool. Being behind the times has its advantages.

    Anyway, I lived in the US for 36 years and never met an African. I met a few in China. None in Thailand yet that I'm aware of. But I have read their literature and seen their films, and I get the impression that Africa is warm, welcoming, open and beautiful. I get that from this book as well.

    Set in Botswana, it features The #1 Ladies Detective Agency. The name of a business is very important, which is why The #1 Ladies Detective Agency is so successful. The name tells you everything you need to know. Whether you love a mystery or couldn't care less, you'll enjoy this book. I did.

    ...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
  • 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
  • Botswana lady detective is back
    Alexander McCall Smith's tales of Botswana bear similarities to those of small-town U.S.A. but with a unique cultural slant. When Precious Ramotswe needs information for one of her detective agency's clients, she just visits a friend for a chat and a cup of tea to get the latest gossip. She is nonplussed by the sudden appearance of a rival detective agency and faces the problem head-on by going to his office to introduce herself. Despite the fact that he's all bluster and no substance, he's a former police officer, and that may be all her neighbors need to believe that he's a more qualified detective. The title refers to a venture that her assistant, Mma Makutsi, initiates as a sideline, so that men can learn what's considered to be a woman's skill in a private setting. There Mma Makutsi finds a potential love interest who, Precious discovers, is not what he seems. I knew that everything would turn out OK in the end, but I still enjoyed reading how Precious manages it, without hurting anyone's feelings.
    ...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
  • the least mysterious so far
    At this point, entering the fourth book in the series, we are all accustomed to Mma Ramotswe and her alternative brand of mystery. One or two mysteries carry through the book, with a couple more short ones in the midst, balanced with a healthy serving of Mma Ramotswe's wisdom and her reflections on the greatness of Botswana. Always relaxing and mildly suspenseful.

    This one has a subtle difference: there are no actual mysteries. The agency takes on two cases: one involves tracking down some old acquaintances, and the solution to the other is apparent to the reader within a few lines of the client walking through the door.

    What does that leave us with? Mma Ramotswe has competition in the form of a rude man who sets up a rival detective agency (Trust your problems to a _man_!, says the ad). The foster children experience growing pains. Mma Makutsi seeks a way to earn some extra cash. Mma Ramotse dispenses wisdom and reflects on Botswana.

    This is still a very pleasant read, Mma Ramotswe has some good insights to share, and the developments in the characters' personal lives are interesting. If you are lucky enough to have access to the audiobook, Lisette Lecat's narration is excellent and soothing as always. I'm glad I read it, but don't come looking for mystery....more info
  • a whole new meaning to the term "sleeping with a man"
    I love this book and this series. The dialouge is witty, the stories are creative. I love the way that Mma Ramotswe thinks and handles problems. I also really enjoy all the other charachters. I loved seeing Mma Makutsi open up her school and feel successful. I reccommend this series to everyone that I know....more info
  • Another dissapointment but better then the last ones
    I have read 4 of the #1 ladies books and the first one was great then all the books started to go down in my books. Lots of people like the sequals but I dont I find they have no life, there boring and flat. This book is all of that but at times is o.k. when they add mystery. I am no longer going to read the other books becouse I am really dissapointed in the series....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
  • Another in the Precious Ramotswe series
    This is the fourth book in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Novel series, featuring the only private detective in Gabarone, Botswana, a woman named Precious Ramotswe. Mma (Mrs. in the local language, Motswana) Ramotswe is a "traditionally-built" woman with an extra helping of common sense who decided to be a private detective, and bought a textbook which taught her how. She's now hired a secretary, Mma Makutsi, who's also traditionally-built, and somewhat disappointed that she doesn't get high-paying work because, though she scored a 97% score on the graduation test at the secretarial college, she's not glamorous-looking. Mma Ramotswe is engaged to Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, who is a reliable chap if a bit dull.

    In the first two installments of this series, there were several detective plots in each book. Each of the plots involved someone who had a difficulty and hired Mma Ramotswe to deal with it somehow. In the third book, there was less mystery, and more about the characters and their lives. This fourth book involves more mystery than the third, but there's also a good deal about the characters, as Mma Makutsi decides to teach typing in her spare time (hence the title) and dates one of her students, and Mma Ramotswe has to deal with rebelliousness from her foster children. The mysteries that are in the plot are the usual thing: typical human-interest problems that Mma Ramotswe can deal with by giving some sage advice.

    This whole series, so far, is wonderful. The books aren't lengthy or over-written, and the characters are refreshingly unsophisticated and sincere. The author has a wonderful ability to convey the citizens of a former British colony in terms of their nature and character. They're simple country people, proud and intelligent, with a simple dignity that's at times faintly ridiculous, and they're unconcerned with other people in other lands of whom they know little. It's a wonderful series, and this book fits right in after the first three....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? 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
  • Kalahari Typing School for Men
    I read this for a book club selection. Unfortunately probably the best I could say is that it is generally a feel good book, and since we had traveled there, it was remotely interesting because of its placement in Botswana. It is a quick read, but I would not recommend it to most people....more info
  • Dusty Days In Boswana
    Another polished gem where the No1 Ladies Detective Agency unknot the thorny problems of life over cups of bush tea. Precious has her sturdy feet firmly on the ground and her very traditional build projects the air of confidence that is so soothing to the callers passing through their door. The interplay between the two women is always a joy and deftly done. Precious is keen to see that her assistant should find true happiness in her life. Much the same as she has, but then she isn't hampered by a difficult complexion and very large glasses. Not to mention a prickly personality, although her assistant is a very good person with a good heart.
    Meanwhile her assistant often yearns for just a little more glamour and excitement in her life, she knows she is not one of the pretty girls who get easy lives and rich husbands. Not only that, she is always in need of extra money even though her boss pays her as well as she can, so to make up the shortfall she sets up the Kalahari Typing School For Men. Reasoning quite rightly that men don't want to be shamed by having the ladies outshine them. The classes prove a great success and before too long teacher finds she is being wooed by one of her pupils. But sadly he isn't quite what he seems to be. There are others masquerading as something else and they must also be unmasked. But our ladies are up to the tasks, Precious never loses sight of what is important and knows just when to step in and when to hang back.
    Problems are solved, hearts eased and things are put back to rights without too much harm done. So life trundles on and Precious carries on pottering about in a tiny white van that one day must surely die. Just not yet.
    Once you get to know these books am sure you will also love to read and re-read them as it is like sharing a cup of tea with a dear friend. More to the point it is tea with a friend full of good advice and accumulated wisdom. ...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
  • 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
  • As good as the first
    If you liked the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency you will enjoy the Kalahari Typing School for Men. Smith maintains his characters, and yet especially in this one expands on the character development of the assistant detective, Mma Makutsi. As in all books in this series, I feel like I am in Botswana when I read these books. ...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 miss people talking about very small things."
    Mma Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in Gaborone, is a much-respected, traditional woman (of "traditional size") who honors the customs of Botswana and tries to solve problems for her clients the "traditional" way--through her broad network of friends and family with whom she can sit down, drink bush tea, and "talk about very small things," as she searches for clues. She is a warm and happy woman of good sense, and her detective agency is a huge success because of her discretion and care for her clients' feelings.

    In this novel, full of gentle humor and wisdom, Mma Ramotswe deals with two clients, one of whom committed a minor crime many years ago and for which he now wants to make amends, and one of whom is worried about a philandering husband. Both cases require the utmost in tact and sensitivity. Mma Ramotswe is also concerned with some personal matters. A rival detective agency, run by an aggressive man, opens an office in Gaborone to great fanfare, and he publicly demeans the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in a news feature. Mma Ramotswe's fianc¨¦, Mr. J. L. B. Matakone still has not set a wedding date, though he clearly loves her, and one of the young orphans she and Mr. J. L. B. Matakone are mentoring, begins to have serious behavior problems. In addition, Mma Makutsi, Mma Ramotswe's assistant, who is barely making ends meet with her current jobs, decides to open a typing school for men after work. Mma Makutsi soon falls in love with one of her students, someone Mma Ramotswe finds inappropriate.

    Domestic issues and human relationships, rather than exciting plot lines, keep the focus on the characters--beautifully drawn, sometimes flawed, and always forgiven their faults. In a pace as relaxed as life in Botswana, author Alexander McCall Smith recreates the colorful everyday lives of these ordinary people, who treasure friendships, treat each other with respect, and possess inherent good sense. In simple, direct prose filled with homely details, the author celebrates a traditional lifestyle and its values during a time in which change may become inevitable. A warm, relaxing read, filled with the joy of life. Mary Whipple
    ...more info
  • good but left me wanting more too soon
    The book picks up where the third installment left us, the faithful readers of this great series. However, the author fails to clue is in to what depression it was that Matekoni had. Makutsis begins a typing school for men for extra money and it is a hit.

    Another clever book by McCall but really thought there were parts missing that would have helped the reader end the book better....more info
  • Strong entry in strong series
    THE NO.1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY was such an original and winning debut, that the subsequent novels in the series at best can only live up to it. There is no matching the surprises with which that first book was loaded, especially in terms of its characters, its setting, its wonderful voice and wit, its story structure. The good news is that Alexander McCall Smith does not betray what he has set up and he continues to use it to good effect in the 4th volume, THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN.

    For the uninitiated, this is a series set in Botswana, Africa, in which the estimable Mma Precious Ramotswe has set up a detective agency. This is not your standard mystery formula. The series relies more on the puzzles of human interactions and weaknesses in a traditional society that is rapidly adapting the first world frame of mind. This time around, Mma Ramotswe tangles with slick competition, while her assistant, the surprising Mma Makutsi, takes a more central role. The various strands of stories come together with Dickensian coincidences, but the author has already snatched your disbelief at the door so you don't care. THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL has its comic moments which are not at odds with its wise reflections. My only criticism of this volume is that the author does not devote the time to exploring his original characters, Mma Ramotswe or her fianc¨¦, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, that he gives to Mma Makutsi. He has recovered the deeper sense of the country that went missing in MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, but not to the depth of the first book in the series.
    ...more info
  • Another Fun Volume of the Ladies' Detective Agency
    This is a solid edition to the collection which means this will be a short review! The only thing I will note about this book is that I felt the ending and the resolution of one of the "mysteries" was a bit too easy. That being said; the book on a whole is just as enjoyable as the rest of the series. I can't wait to get into the 5th book!...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
  • Short on detecting, long on relationships.
    This fourth book in the series brings not a heck of a lot of detective work, and none of the astute problem-solving that made book one a literary treasure.

    The main attractions this time are the opening of a rival detective agency powered by testosterone, the launching of a typing school for men powered by girl power, a long overdue apology powered by guilt, and at long last, a love interest for Mma. Makutsi, powered by hair grease and slime.

    The author takes us a few levels deeper into the characters this time, and the result is a rich African brew, ideal for slow lazy sipping under a shady tree with a gentle breeze ruffling the pages, and of course a hot cup of bush tea.

    Not ground breaking or earth shattering, but a very pleasant read anyway.

    Amanda Richards, November 23, 2004...more info