The No. 1 Ladies' Detective

Introduction to the series

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series started life as a short story written for friends but took hold of its author and grew first to one novel and then, over the space of fifteen years, to thirteen. The characters have won the hearts of readers around the globe and together, the thirteen volumes have together become one of the world’s most successful series, with over 20 million copies sold in English and translations in 45 languages.

Precious Ramotswe, that cheerful woman of traditional build, is the founder of Gabarone’s first ladies’ detective agency. Since her first appearance in 1998 she has become established as one of the most famous private detectives in world-literature by solving her cases through her innate wisdom and her understanding of human nature. Her gentle interpretation of the detective role is helped along the way by a host of delightful characters: the patient and noble Mr JLB Matekoni, her long standing fiance; her loyal and enterprising assistant, Mma Makutsi; and the wily Mma Motokwani, matron of the nearby orphanage.

‘McCall Smith’s saga is evolving into a tapestry of extraordinary nuance and richness.’ — Wall Street Journal

Click on the covers to purchase any of these titles.



The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

With the arrival of an heir to the Double Comfort furniture empire and Mma Makutsi busy with motherhood, Mma Ramotswe must tackle tea-making and detective work alone. Well-known troublemaker Violet Sephotho may or not be behind a smear campaign against the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, and a dispute over the will of a local dignitary points to a shocking family secret. But the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is resilient and adaptable, and change brings salutary lessons: that our enemies are not always obvious, that a snake under the bed may be an ally, and that a mother’s love conquers all.

Buy The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon here.


Precious and the Monkeys and Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat Hill

Precious Ramotswe’s First Ever Case

Well before Precious Ramotswe founded her Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency, as an eight-year-old girl she was already solving mysteries. Here, in these delightful, enchanting tales for children and fans of all ages, we find out how the young Precious became the crafty and intuitive private investigator we all know and love!

Buy Precious and the Monkeys here.


The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi have always relied on the advice of the classic guide to their trade, The Principles of Private Detection. But who is the eminent author, Mr Clovis Andersen, and what if he were to come to Botswana? That seems a very unlikely possibility, and yet . . . When Mr Andersen visits Botswana on holiday, he is delighted and intrigued to stumble across a roadside sign that reveals the existence of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Professional courtesy suggests that he call and announce himself. Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti are embarking on married life and building a new house – a tricky business under any circumstances but especially hazardous when the name of the contractor is the Joy and Light Building Company.

Buy The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection here.


The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency SPECIAL COLLECTORS' EDITION

Precious sets out on the trail of a missing child, a case that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger . . .

A special limited edition of this first book in the series is now available from Polygon. This beautifully crafted book contains two-colour illustrations throughout and comes in a sumptuous hardback slip case taking McCall Smith’s best-selling novel to new heights of reading. Numbered and signed by both the author and illustrator.

‘A rare pleasure’ – The Daily Telegraph

Buy The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency COLLECTORS' ED here.


Tears of the Giraffe

The second novel in the widely acclaimed No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, takes us further into the life of the engaging and sassy Precious Ramotswe, the owner and detective of Botswana’s only ladies’ detective agency. Among her cases this time are wayward wives and unscrupulous maids. Mma Ramotswe’s own impending marriage to the most gentlemanly of men, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, the promotion of Mma’s secretary to the dizzy heights of Assistant Detective, and the arrival of new members of the Matekoni family all brew up the most humorous and charmingly entertaining of tales.

‘The most entertaining read of the year.’ — The Guardian

Buy Tears of the Giraffe here.


Morality for Beautiful Girls

Witty, warm and utterly charming, Precious Ramotswe make a welcome return in this, the third volume in the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Here we find her find her expanding her business to take in the world of car repair and a beauty pageant.

‘Mma Ramotswe’s methods — and her results — are as unusual as the novels they inhabit… All this activity is much less about whodunit than why.’ — New York Times

Buy Morality for Beautiful Girls here.


The Kalahari Typing School for Men

The fourth novel in the widely acclaimed series find Precious Ramotswe running her agency from the garage of her fiance, Mr JLB Matekoni. Plans for their wedding need to be made — but when, if ever, will they wed?

‘The author’s prose has the merits of simplicity, euphony and precision. His descriptions leave one as if standing in the Botswana landscape. This is art that conceals art. I haven’t read anything with such unalloyed pleasure for a long time.’ — Anthony Daniels, The Sunday Telegraph

Buy The Kalahari Typing School for Men here.


The Full Cupboard of Life

Once again we are transported to Botswana and enter the world of Mma Ramotswe and her friends. Precious, who beame engaged to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni at the end of the first volume, remains unmarried and she wonders when a day for the wedding will be named. But both she and Mr JLB Matekoni have weighty matters on their minds.

‘The author has an easy command of story-telling and a gift for describing dusty sun-baked Botswana. His books, ostensibly mysteries, are also gentle but incisive commentaries on Africa, men and women and life in general. They are not to be missed.’ — Seattle Times

Buy The Full Cupboard of Life here.


In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

Precious Ramotswe is finally married to Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. But misfortune strikes as her tiny white van collides with a bicycle and her assistant, Mma Makutsi, has a spectacular disagreement with one of the garage apprentices.

‘There is something almost divinely appealing about the way Alexander McCall Smith writes about daily life in Botswana… It is hard to think of a contemporary writer most genuinely engaging.’
— Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

Buy In the Company of Cheerful Ladies here.


Blue Shoes and Happiness

Blue Shoes and Happiness brings more troublesome cases to the attention of the traditionally built Precious Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutsi, including an encounter with a cobra, a sinister blackmail plot, and a rather tight-fitting pair of shoes. But Mma Ramotswe can always find happiness in the small things such as a slice of cake and a cup of bush tea under Botswana skies.

‘Fans of the The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency will revel in the tricky new challenges the traditionally built Mma Ramotswe faces with her unique combination of common sense and kindness…Why can’t all the world be like this?’ — www.lovereading.co.uk

Buy Blue Shoes and Happiness here.


The Good Husband of Zebra Drive

Mma Ramotswe is experiencing staffing difficulties. First Mr J.L.B. Matekoni asks to be put in charge of a case involving an errant husband. But can a man investigate such matters as successfully as the number one lady detective can? Then, Mma Makutsi, decides to leave the agency taking her near-perfect secretarial skills with her.

‘Nothing will dim the charm of McCall Smith’s series, with its portraits of goodness, its sorrow over greed and its profound love of Africa. They are among the greatest comfort-reads of all time,’
— Amanda Craig, The Independent

Buy The Good Husband of Zebra Drive here.


The Miracle at Speedy Motors

Threatening letters have been received at the detective agency and the search for the author of these leads to a familiar suspect and in this volume, we see more of the young girl whom Mma Ramotswe and Mr J L B Matekoni have fostered. Mr J L B Matekoni believes that somebody may be able to work a miracle for her — Mma Ramotswe is not so sure. That is not to say that she does not believe in miracles — she believes that miracles are everywhere; in the kindness of friends, in the love of family, and in the very sun that shines upon her country, Botswana, the land that she loves so much.

‘No one could fail to warm to Precious Ramotswe, one of the most engaging leading characters to have emerged in popular contemporary fiction in the past decade. Compassionate, thoughtful and with a heart the size of the watermelons that grow in her native Botswana, she is a heroine for all times,’ — Mail on Sunday

Buy The Miracle at Speedy Motors here.


The Double Comfort Safari Club

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are called to a safari lodge in Botswana’s Okavango Delta to carry out a delicate mission on behalf of a former guest.

The Okavango makes Precious appreciate the beauty of her homeland, but it’s also home to rival safari operators and upset wildlife. Mma Makutsi is also feeling a bit on edge as a date for her wedding to Rhuti Radiphuti still hasn’t materialised. Patience, and Precious, will solve everything, as ever.

Buy The Double Comfort Safari Club here.


Tea Time For The Traditionally Built

It is a troublesome fact that there are things which men know and ladies do not, and vice versa. When Mma Ramotswe’s newest client turns out to be the owner of the failing Kalahari Swoopers, it is unfortunate that one of the things this lady detective knows very little about is football. And when Mma Makutsi’s old enemy, the glamorous Violet Sephotho, sets her sights on her unsuspecting fiancé Phuti Radiphuti, it becomes exasperatingly clear that men do not know how to recognise a ruthless Jezebel even when she is bouncing up and down on the best bed in the Double Comfort Furniture Shop.

‘This book has such gentle humour, evoking a life very different from our own. It’s a bit like an old pair of slippers — marvellously comforting — and it’s best read in one go, while stretched out on a squashy sofa.’
Woman and Home

Buy Tea Time For the Traditionally Built here.


The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party

As the countdown to Mma Makutsi’s wedding begins, all is not as it should be at the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. While investigating unpleasant occurrences on a southern cattle-post, Mma Ramotswe, always on the side of the weak against the strong, has reason to reflect on Rule No.3 of The Principles of Private Detection: never lie to the client. Apprentice mechanic Charlie seems to be avoiding certain important responsibilities. And as Mma Makutsi’s big day approaches, her nemesis Violet Sephotho is casting her net wider: by standing for election which could spell trouble for the entire nation.
But as friends and family gather under starry African night skies, it turns out that even the most perplexing of apparitions – and the most shocking of crimes – may yield to rational explanation. And, of course, to Mma Ramotswe’s inimitable way with love, intuition and redbush tea.

‘McCall Smith weaves his simple magic’ Herald

‘a charming, entertaining and uplifting book.’ – Sunday Express

‘McCall Smith can be relied upon to take us to a land where life is lived with the requisite moral attentiveness and good humour. But for all his books’ charm and reassurance, they can still surprise – and even move – the reader, often through the smallest of details.’ – Scotsman

Buy here.