Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Video, A Memory, and A Preview

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, a series of 12 books by Alexander McCall Smith

I saw the video of the HBO TV series based on these books on a shelf in my local library.  I snatched it up and took it home where I was happily introduced to the TV version of Precious Ramotswe played by Jill Scott.  It was glorious and I fell in love with Mma Ramotswe and her crew all over again.

One of the really great things is that, with only a few unobtrusive variations, the TV series keeps the faith with the characters and story lines.  Mma Ramotswe and the characters who surround her are almost exactly as I pictured them when I read the books.

That was seven or eight years ago. I saw a piece on Alexander McCall Smith on 60 Minutes and thought a novel about an African woman detective would be interesting.  I got a copy of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and was instantly enchanted.

Now, I must tell you that I got a CD copy from the library and listening to these books is dramatically enhanced by the excellent narration of Lissette Lecat.  I tore through the entire series and loved every story.

The heart and soul of the books is Mma Ramotswe, a traditionally built, down to earth woman who is strongly independent, loves her county and her people, and committed to doing good by helping people resolve their problems.

She attracts a fabulous crew of support people including Grace Makutsi, her ambitious and hard working secretary, and Mr. JLB Matekoni, the reliable mechanic who becomes her fiance.

Her cases, by and large, deal with the simple problems that beset people everywhere and she solves them with wisdom, cleverness, patience, and a bit of daring.  Every story carries enough weight to pull you in and get you invested in the outcome without all the hyperbole of gruesome murder and mayhem.

But it is the down to earth humor and good will that makes these stories special and memorable. The books are on the short side usually running between 160 and 180 pages or so.  By the time you get to the end, I guarantee you will be wishing for another few pages.

The video reminded me how much I enjoyed this series and when I went back to check on the books, I discovered three more.  I have them now loaded in my Nook and I will be reviewing them soon.  In the meantime, check out the video and enjoy!

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