The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Version: Unabridged
Author: Alexander McCall McCall Smith
Narrator: Lisette Lecat
Genres: Detective Stories
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published In: February 2003
# of Units: 7 CDs
Length: 8 hours, 15 minutes
Tell Your Friends:


his first novel in Alexander McCall Smith's widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to "help people with problems in their lives." Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.

Reviews (11)

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Written by Samantha from Arlington, VA on April 5th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Having read all of the books about the Ladies' Detective Agency, I find the first one to be the most action-oriented. She works on and solves more cases than in some of the others. So it really gets your attention.


Written by Anonymous on February 3rd, 2012

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I loved this. Maybe not a breathless page turner with explosions and wild car chases, but a solid story about a delightful woman with a delightful viewpoint on life. Looking for more from this author!

Stay with it!

Written by Anonymous on February 25th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

It took us a little while to get "hooked" on this book, but once we had gotten to know the characters and had become used to the unfamiliar sounding names, we didn't want the book to end. The stories about the family and background of Precious Ramotswe were interwoven with her detecting assignments and they were all engaging. Even in the snowy Midwest in February, the author made us feel the heat and dust of Africa. We'll definitely be checking out later books in this series!

A delight; not a page-turner

Written by Marco on February 9th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This series is delightful, full of life, those brief sweet moments that transcend the day to day and unite us all in the human experience. If you can't engage with these books, if you don't have the patience to let the humor and sweetness open up in you, then as BB King once said, "you got to have a hole in your soul." If you are schooled in the cheap thrill page-turner novel, don't waste your time; stick to the best seller pap.

the no 1 ladies detective agency

Written by Anonymous on September 15th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I found this so boring I did not even bother to finish the book beyond the first disc.

Borderline bore

Written by Anonymous on March 2nd, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I was tempted to not even finish this book, but I managed to get through it all. It's not the worst book I've ever encountered, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it. I suppose it has its charming moments, but they are few and far between... and certainly not worth listening to the entire thing just to get to.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Written by Carolyn from Rehoboth, MA on November 16th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

What a delightful book. You really get a feel for Botswana and the main character is well developed. The reader is perfect for this book. I have read the next 2 books in the series and there are more!


Written by dlct on October 18th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

The narrator's voice is nice although after a while the perfectly enunciated pronunciations of names, titles, cities, etc. get a bit tedious. Still, it was an interesting, if very light-weight story of life in Africa. The main character is a bit too perfect, even with her one mistake in the past and the final major case is pretty easy to see coming. Still, for a peek into life in Botswana, it's worth a listen. If you want taut, tense drama, this isn't for you.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Written by Anonymous on June 18th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I rather expected an African version of Agatha Christie when I rented this book. While not as heavy on the "detective" as AC, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. A bit slower paced, this book really evokes a vision of Botswana and its people. While the main charater, Precious Ramotswe, does indeed solve mysteries, the endearing quality of this book is the relationships and characters. Ms. Ramotswe is a modern kind of heroine, confident, caring, and aware of her own limitations. This is a "feel good" book.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Written by Anonymous on September 15th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I was so bored by the end of the first cd, I couldn't get myself to listen to the rest of them. The history was, if correct, interesting, but got old fast.

Author Details

Author Details

McCall Smith, Alexander

Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 60 books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children's books. But he is best known for his internationally acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which rapidly rose to the top of bestseller lists throughout the world. The fifth novel in the series, The Full Cupboard of Life, received the Saga Award for Wit in the UK. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (April 2007) is the eighth book in the series. The series has now been translated into 39 languages and has sold over 14 million copies worldwide. Another series, beginning with The Sunday Philosophy Club, about a female sleuth named Isabel Dalhousie, appeared in 2004 and immediately leapt onto national bestseller lists, as did the second and third books, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate and The Right Attitude to Rain. The fourth Dalhousie mystery, The Careful Use of Compliments, is due August 2007. McCall Smith's serial novel, 44 Scotland Street, was published in book form to great acclaim in 2005, followed by Espresso Tales. Love Over Scotland, which continues the series, is due in November 2007.

In addition, McCall Smith's delightful German professor series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances were published in the US in January 2005. He is also the author of children's books, including the Akimbo series, about a boy in Africa, and the Harriet Bean books. Pantheon has published Alexander McCall Smith's collection of African folktales, The Girl Who Married a Lion. McCall Smith is also the author of Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams, a contemporary reworking of a beloved Celtic myth.

McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. For many years he was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, and has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States. He is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition to his university work, McCall Smith was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library Award; the United Kingdom's Author of The Year Award in 2004 and Sweden's Martin Beck award. In 2007 he was made a CBE for his services to literature in the Queen's New Year Honors List.

Alexander McCall Smith currently lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth (an Edinburgh doctor), and their two daughters Lucy and Emily. His hobbies include playing wind instruments, and he is the co-founder of an amateur orchestra called "The Really Terrible Orchestra" in which he plays the bassoon and his wife plays the horn.