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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 October 2013
The entire series of the 'No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency' sits on my bookshelf - 'have just finished the last volume and cannot wait for the next to be published. The stories are compelling and draw the reader in to a world that is not perfect, not without tears and heartache, but the stories are full of simple hope and the problems often resolved with surprising twists. I have found them uplifting, and soothing, and would strongly recommend these books .
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 September 2003
Following on the heels of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Tears of the Giraffe, and Morality for Beautiful Girls, is this—the fourth entry in Smith's series about Botswanan private detective Precious Ramotswe, her master mechanic fiancé Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, their assistant Ms. Makutsi, and their two foster children. Devotees of the series will likely deduce from the title that this particular entry will focus on Ms. Makutsi—former star pupil of the Botswana Secretarial College and expert typist. And they will be right, as the title refers to a school established by Ms. Makutsi in order to supplement her income as assistant detective and assistant garage manager.
There is only one real mystery in the slight volume, a man who wishes to make restitution for bad behavior of his some twenty years previously. This calls for Precious to track down two people and handle the matter with her usual delicacy. The only other case is a suspected case of infidelity with no mystery to it at all, and once again Precious's greatest difficulty lies in determining exactly what course of action to take in order to effect the best result for all concerned and achieve cosmic justice. Subplots include the ongoing trials of raising the two foster children, and the founding of a rival detective agency. This latter development held great potential for being a long-running obstacle for the Mma. Ramotswe, but is given short shrift and is dealt with all too easily. As in all the books in the series, Smith aims to portray a positive picture of modern Africa, one all too rarely seen in the West. It is both a celebration of the "old ways" of Africa, and a lament for their decline.
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on 30 June 2013
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 at the cost.
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on 14 June 2004
I absolutely love these Mma Ramotswe books by Alexander McCall Smith, this one is as good as the others and the twists and turns keep you guessing 'til the end. Definitely worth a read.
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on 10 August 2013
I just love this delightful series. I am re-reading it currently on the Kindle to catch up ready for the latest releases as yet unread. You get an insight into a different and somewhat nicer way of life.
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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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on 20 February 2004
The 4th volume in the no1 Ladies Detective agency series lives up to the high standards of the previous three books. It has the same star quality of the other books but if you have not read them yet then what are you waiting for!!??? This book is wonderfully witty and a must have for any bookcase!!
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on 18 April 2015
Another charming instalment in this lovely series of books. Mma Ramotswe and her assistant have their usual share of problems, both personal and professional, as a rival detective agency opens nearby. As business declines, Mma Makutsi opens a typing school for men, hence the title. No huge drama nor astonishing twists, but as usual from Mr McCall Smith, a beautifully observed slice of human life with all its minor problems and foibles, dealt with in a practical and sensitive way by the two women.
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on 13 January 2013
Brilliant reading for those who love the Precious books. So much insight into Botswana and life there as well as the mystery and human element. All books recommended to anyone who loves 'good books'.
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on 22 January 2007
The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series has got to be the best series recently written. It's been a long time since such a number of books have been so devoured, enjoyed and smiled at. Mccall Smith has a genius touch managing to make simple lives seem so attractive, and the plainly described African landscape so enticing. The plot lines are typical of most we all come across in our daily lives - unwanted children, relationship breakdown, depression and economic hardship - yet the optimism and community spirit is almost palpable. Precious books.
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