As the creator of the utterly charming series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the Scottish lawyer and author Alexander McCall Smith enjoys a loyal worldwide following. McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe and taught law in Botswana, the rich backdrop for the Ladies’ Detective series. Generous in size and spirit, Precious Ramotswe solves cases not of violent crime but of domestic messiness—an overstrict father, wayward teenager, and cheating husband. Our sensible lady detective concludes, “All men carried on with the ladies, in her experience.”
The versatile and erudite McCall Smith has published more than fifty books, from academic texts such as Law and Medical Ethics (2003) to African folktales and children’s stories such as Akimbo and the Elephants (2005). A second light-footed series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs(2003), features the punctilious Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Iglefeld, who “often reflected on how fortunate he was to be exactly who he was, and nobody else.” The latest series of witty mysteries, The Sunday Philosophy Club, traces the cozy life of the high-minded heroine Isabel Dalhousie in titles as irresistible as Friends, Lovers, and Chocolate (2005). The author’s many fans hope he will overtake the one-hundred-book record of P.G. Wodehouse, his predecessor in sparkling farce. McCall Smith teaches medical law at the University of Edinburgh. An amateur bassoonist, he co-founded and performs with “The Really Terrible Orchestra” in his spare time.
Excerpt from The Full Cupboard of Life, in the series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency“Such people are very helpful in our work,” said Mma Ramotswe. “They tell us things we need to know.”
“This is such a lady,” said Rose. “She will tell you everything she knows. It makes her very happy to do that. You will need a long, long time.”
There were many people like that in Botswana, Mma Ramotswe reflected, and she was glad that this was so. It would be strange to live in a country where people were silent, passing one another in the street wordlessly, as if frightened of what the other might think or say. This was not the African way, where people would call out and converse with one another from opposite sides of a road, or across a wide expanse of bush, careless of who heard. Such conversations could be carried on by people walking in different directions, until voices grew too faint and too distant to be properly heard and words were swallowed by the sky. That was a good way of parting from a friend, so less abrupt than words of farewell followed by silence.
Selected WorkPortuguese Irregular Verbs (2005) The Sunday Philosophy Club (2004) The Full Cupboard of Life (2003)The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2003) The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (1998)