Morality for Beautiful Girls - Alexander McCall Smith
Review of

THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY series by Alexander McCall Smith
consisting of
THE NO. LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY
TEARS OF THE GIRAFFE
MORALITY FOR BEAUTIFUL GIRLS

Critics have called Mr. Smith's heroine, Precious Ramotswe, the "Miss Marple of Botswana." I would argue this title to be somewhat of an injustice, not necessarily because I am a Christie fan. Anybody keeping up with the adventures of Botswana's best (and only) female detective might be inclined to place Mma. Ramotswe in a category of her own, as a literary character destined to achieve similar icon status.

Having come into a sizable inheritance which would otherwise have allowed her a life in relative comfort, Mma. decides instead to go into the business of solving crimes, as she holds fast to the belief that women are more analytic and fastidious than men, therefore would be apt to bring results quickly. Setting up shop in a rented office with her very own secretary (a detective must never be without an office and secretary, reasons Mma., as a detective must display all trapping of professionalism), the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is launched, and throughout the first three books of McCall Smith's series there is hardly a shortage of clients (shortage of payments, however, is another matter).

NO. 1 LADIES' is the most expository of the books, interspersing Mma.'s sleuthing prowess with background on her life and the Botswanian environment, offering the reader a view of a culture steeped with politeness and consideration. High points in the story include a case where Mma. exposes an philandering husband and the blossoming relationship with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.

In TEARS and MORALITY, the characters quickly become old friends, and while the cases are not of the hard-hitting variety one might see in Kinsey Millhone's milieu, Mma. proves to be equally crafty and a good judge of character, particularly with regards to her secretary, who pulls triple as manager of the garage and as assistant detective (all of the prestige, none of the extra pay), and now fiance Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, who in TEARS opens his home to two orphaned children.

Antiquated narrative blended with modern-day appeal and a heroine worthy of her birth name serve as the backbone for this delightful series, suitable for teen readers and anybody seeking a good read with no profanity or graphic situations.