Monday, March 31, 2008

Book: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

My best friend recommended this series, and since she always knows best, I thought I would check them out. :)

Seriously, though, I didn't really expect to love it as much as I did. I don't usually read mysteries (this is filed under Mystery at the library) and she said it was set in Africa, and I was sort of expecting turn-of-the-century South African white women running a quaint little detective agency for the expats.

However! I was wrong. It is set in Africa (Botswana, actually) and it is about a sweet little detective agency, but it's run by a smart, down-to-earth African woman who wanted to start her own little business (complete with secretary, because how can you have a detective agency without a secretary? You would have to sit in the office all day! You couldn't go shopping in the afternoon!). The mysteries are short and sweet for the most part, and the writing is simple but lively. I found it very comforting. A little drama, a little romance, but nothing to raise your blood pressure. The whole book: story, writing, plot, setting, characters -- is very charming. I fell in love with it after the first chapter.

Interspersed with the cases she solves are snippets of life in Botswana, the people and the culture, how they make a living, their values. I felt myself wanting to live there and sit on my front porch in the heat of the afternoon and watch my cows and listen for lions in the distance, and stew my pumpkin for dinner.

This was a very fast read, I started it at around 3 in the afternoon and had it finished by 11 pm, even after a big long break for baking, dinner-making, and studying.

I think there are 9 of these books and I look forward to reading them one by one, perhaps doled out as treats after I finish something meatier.


Alex said...

This is one of the $1.98 paperbacks that I bought at Green Apple, so I'm glad to read the good review. I'm not a mystery person at all, but I think I'll like it too.

I just read a book set in Ashland, OR. I don't know if that's near where you're from, but it sounds like a really cool small town. Cool enough to be harboring al Quada connections, it turns out. I think that's also near where they filmed the movie version of "Conversations with God."

Daphne said...

Yes, I was really surprised at how much I liked it... I think you'll like it too. It's very charming. Not taxing.

Ashland is Southern Oregon, very far from where I'm from, but it is a VERY cool town!

Kate said...

I've had this book recommended to me several times but have resisted reading it for various and sundry reasons, not the least of which is that I don't read a lot of "mysteries." I don't think I'll rush out to Powell's and buy it immediately, but I'm glad to hear a respected opinion on it!

Daphne said...

It really wasn't a 'mystery' book per se (maybe the rest of the series is) and that's kind of why I liked it -- it was more just a really nice story that made me happy. Not too taxing, very relaxing, and I felt great about the world after reading it. That's not too bad sometimes, you know?