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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "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,"...
Published on 4 Nov 2004 by Mary Whipple

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars good story
As are all of the No 1 Ladies Detective series. But, they far from represent value for money! The overall costs is somewhat higher than many other novels, and the books are very short. Even shorter than they actually appear as 8 to 10 percent at the end of each book is taken up by a chapter promoting another authors book. Would love to read the whole series but baulk...
Published 15 months ago by michaela ridge


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I miss people talking about very small things.", 4 Nov 2004
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) (Paperback)
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 fiancé, 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
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite at the standard of the first one but still a treat, 29 Oct 2003
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This is another book in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series - the series that puts a smile on your face and makes you wish that we could go back to the simple life.
Mma Ramotswe and Mma Rakusi continue to show that unique outlook on life and problem solving that made the series such a joy to read. Maybe the only criticism I have is that Mma Ramotswe's impending wedding is taking a little too long, and her poor fiancee just doesn't have the mental strength of Mma.
Although the story line isn't quite as captivating as the first book, it is still a wonderful read.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tales of Karmic Debts and Spiritual Healing, 1 Jun 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) (Paperback)
The Kalahari Typing School for Men continues as the fourth installment in the fine series about Botswana's first lady detective, Mma. Precious Ramotswe, which was begun in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and followed by Tears of the Giraffe and Morality for Beautiful Girls. Alexander McCall Smith does a fine job of providing the background from the first three novels in the opening of this one, and the book is almost as stand-alone as The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. The Kalahari Typing School for Men continues several themes in the prior books including the superiority of women over men, the importance of being organized and diligent, following your heart and spirit to do the right thing . . . in the right way, and intriguing questions about what is moral behavior in complex situations.
The book continues its humorous backdrop as Precious finds herself up against an experienced male competitor who opens the Satisfaction Guaranteed Detective Agency. The competitor proves to be very annoying to Precious, and she struggles to maintain her optimism in the face of this new trial.
With Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni back working energetically at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, Mma. Makutsi finds herself dissatisfied. She's really operating as a secretary to both companies rather than as an assistant detective and acting manager, as she had done before. When a new client shows up and insists on speaking with Precious alone, Mma. Makutsi's unhappiness grows. But she shakes herself off, and finds a new opportunity in establishing The Kalahari Typing School for Men, the most unique educational establishment you will probably ever read about.
Precious deals with two client cases . . . neither of which is really a mystery in the normal literary sense. But deciding how to represent her clients' best interests provides weighty challenges of Biblical proportions.
I was a little disappointed in the book, though. Unlike the earlier three books, it lacks the powerful presence of wild Africa to add character and spice. Increasingly, I felt like I was reading just another comic novel about a woman who is trying to juggle all of the balls at once without dropping one. While that is certainly entertaining, this book lacked the uniqueness that made the other books such continuing and pleasant surprises.
As I finished the book, I thought about the special relationship between novelists and their readers. When a novelist establishes a character and a setting for a series of novels, readers expect that what makes that character and setting precious to them will continue. When a book attempts to go off in a new direction, readers should be glad of the author's willingness to experiment. But I do think that the author should provide a valuable substitute if precious elements are left behind. For example, if this novel had been set in an intriguing new locale because Precious had to move, the pleasure of learning about that locale would have made the book's switch in direction worthwhile.
Novelists, keep your implicit promises to your readers!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect read, 24 July 2002
Every bit as enjoyable as the previous Mma Precious Ramotswe tales, The Kalahari School of Typing for Men deals equally well with love, life, private investigation and personal revelation. Alexander McCall-Smith is the only male author I read, which should give you some idea as to why I enjoy his work so much. He combines empathy for his characters with a dry sense of humour - I laughed out loud several times. A natural story-teller, McCall-Smith endears every character to his reader; they may live in Botswana but these are people we all know. It's a rare writer who makes every word count - McCall-Smith never disappoints.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Wonderful Book in the Series, 3 May 2004
By 
Imperial Topaz (Marrakesh, Morocco) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) (Paperback)
Even though this book is the fourth in the series about the No. 1 Ladies' Detection Agency, it could easily be picked up and read, not having read the previous three books. The reason is that the author starts the book by giving a good summary, in several pages, of the most important points of the previous books. As good as each book in the series has been, it seems as if every new book is even better!
This book imparts the wisdom of experience through the characters. I actually cried with the characters when they cried. This book finds Precious Ramotswe still unmarried, and Mma Makutsi starting a typing school, and with a boyfriend. The cases taken on are as interesting as always, and their resolutions impart wisdom to the reader. This book left me immediately eager to pick up the fifth book in the series.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Kalahari Typing School for Men, 3 Sep 2002
By 
John Lindsay (Livingston, West Lothian United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This book put me in touch with a culture I have not personally experienced before:Botswana. It was a delight to read of different outlooks on life and death (people and animals who have died are 'late') and the world we live in, it was lovely to read of people who still feel attached to the soil of their homeland, it was inspiring to hear words and language used in a different way - all this in the context of a good, simple, detective story. The only drawback was that it was so enjoyable I read it very, very quickly.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, light and "traditional"!, 25 Mar 2005
This review is from: The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) (Paperback)
I loved this, the fourth book in the series recording the life of Mma Ramotswe, the only lady private detective in Botswana.
I couldn't help smiling as I read the book, the use of language in the book is very engaging and I love the way AMS records the private thoughts of each character. One piece, which particularly tickled me, was a rambling digression of Mma Ramotswe herself: she was thinking (as is often the case) about the traditional ways of Botswana; she recalled that about half of the Botwanan people followed traditional ways and about half followed the church. Then she digressed into how, people in the church held that people went to heaven. Then she went on to think that there were probably cows in heaven too - and that if there were these cows would be very nice, good cows, with lovely brown eyes and white skin. Then she thought that of course if there were nice cows in heaven, they could give rides to the children - but of course that meant the children would be late and that was very sad.
The book is full of this kind of lovely rambling descriptive thinking weaved in amongst the stories about an errant husband, a man who wants to fix wrongs he committed as a youth, a competitor in the detective business and love for Mma Makutsi.
I loved the book, I thought it was probably better than Nos 2 & 3, very much of the standard of the first one - well worth a read.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full flavoured brew, 6 May 2004
This review is from: The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) (Paperback)
This fourth book in the series continues in the same fashion as the previous three. The most endearing feature of the book is the way that the author paints his picture of everyday life in Botswana. Having spent some time driving through the country, and having visited many of the places mentioned, it brings memories flooding back, and I find it very easy to visualize myself sitting on Mma Ramotswe's porch watching the world go by.
Anybody who hasn't tried this series ought to, to get a flavour of the gentle pace of life in a peaceful African country.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Continuing the Tale, 15 Mar 2009
By 
Jo D'Arcy (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) (Paperback)
We are back with the No 1 Ladies Detective, Precious Ramotswe, her faithful fiancé Mr J L B Matekoni and her assistant Mma Makutsi. Nothing major has changed in Botswana since we left these characters in book three.

Mr J L B Matekoni is on the mend from his previous illness and seems to be coping well, but has yet to set a date with Precious for the wedding. The children he adopted and who live with Precious are causing some concern for them both, and we see as they tackle the problems that come with having children who can be easily influenced by what others say. The garage is still profitable and the apprentices still push the boundaries of what is an acceptable amount of work. They are involved with girls and Jesus in equal amounts, and both their faiths are tested when a prayer is answered.

Mma Ramotswe has some competition in Gaborone now as a male detective has started business, and advertises as such as being a man and more able to help solve anyone's problems. The failure and treatment of one particular lady forces her to seek Mma Ramotswe's help and the male detective has a change of career and a realisation that maybe the detective business should be left to the women! This lady brings a problem which has ramifications not just for herself but also for Mma Ramotswe's assistant detective and the assistant manager of Mr J L B Matekoni`s Speedy Motors Garage, Mma Makutsi.

Mma Makutsi is looking at her finances and realises she needs to make some more money so she can afford some new clothes and medication for her sick brother. Not one to be defeated Mma Makutsi uses her knowledge and skill and the 97% from the Secretarial College to good use when she sets up the typing school, as in the title of this book. She is successful with this venture not just from a business point of view but also from an emotional point of view. Perhaps at last Mma Makutsi may realise that she has something to offer a man, and that a man will look at her and see her beauty.

Alexander McCall Smith creates a warm book which carries on the tales from the first three and into the next. You pick this book up, knowing what you are getting. A gently journey into the lives of peaceful people in Botswana who have to deal with similar problems to ourselves and moral dilemmas but set in a beautiful background, of which is one of McCall Smith's greatest asset in transporting the reader there. I look forward to picking up book five for more tales which are so beautifully drawn.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great 'Ladies Detective Agency' Novel, 30 Jan 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) (Paperback)
How can anyone not love an Alexander McCall Smith, actually I think I will change that, I haven't been bitten by the bug of the 44 Scotland Street series after reading the first, haven't tried the Sausage Dogs ones or whatever the series is yet, but I do want to read the second Isabel Dalhousie. Sorry I digress... How can anyone one not love a No.1 Ladies Detective Agency novel? In fact how can anyone not love the entire series?

I have just finished of the fourth and after the third being good but not as much as the last two I can safely say that he is back on form with this one (I am sure he will be so bothered by me saying that) especially as we see more of my favourite character Mme Makutsi, I know she isn't the one the book is about and I do love Precious Ramotswe, there is just something about Mme Makutsi that I find really endearing, in this one she gets a love interest, I am getting ahead of myself.

A new detective agency `The Satisfaction Guarantee Detective Agency' has opened in town and neither of the above ladies are happy, so much so that precious decided that maybe the new detective agency needs some detecting about, what results will she find and will they take all her business. Mme Makutsi worried her career may be over starts a Typing School for Men; where indeed she meets a man of her own a man almost too good to be true.

This is more of a stand alone book than its predecessors bar of course the first in the series and also slightly less `crime' based than the others have been. The previous stories are summed up in the first paragraph and you could actually read this with having read the others altogether. McCall Smith is however building on the characters and if you haven't read any of these and are like me you'll want to read them in order anyway. Africa itself does take a slight backseat in this novel I noted. It didn't seem as wild as before, not that it should always be the main feature it's a nice part of the series individuality from other detective novels. Cannot wait to read `The Full Cupboard of Life' though I shall try as I really don't want to get to the end of this series... or catch up too soon.
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The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency)
The Kalahari Typing School For Men (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) by Alexander McCall Smith (Paperback - 26 Feb 2004)
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