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About Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful 'No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency' series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.
In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' – a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La’s Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.
Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.
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It is 1938 and the final days of the British Empire. In a bungalow high up in the green hills above the plains of Ceylon, under a vast blue sky, live the Ferguson family: Bella, a precocious eight-year-old; her father, Henry, owner of a tea plantation; and her mother, Virginia, a woman out of step in her community. The story centers around their home, affectionately called “The Pavilion in the Clouds,” set in the idyllic grounds carved out of the wilderness. But all is not as serene as it seems. Bella is suspicious of the intentions of her governess, Miss White. Her suspicion ignites her mother’s imagination, causing an unfortunate series of eventsthat reverberate throughout the years.
“McCall Smith is a master .... There’s beauty and revelation of one kind or another woven expertly into every line.” —The Christian Science Monitor
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni attends a course hosted by the local chamber of commerce entitled “Where Is Your Business Going?” But rather than feeling energized, he comes back in low spirits, unsure how to grow the already venerable and successful Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. Then an old friend from school approaches him about a new business venture that could be just the ticket. When it turns out he will need to mortgage his property in order to pursue this endeavor, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi wonder what this will mean for his current business—as well as their own.
Even as she puzzles over mysteries on the domestic front, Mma Ramotswe’s professional duties must take precedence. When a concerned son learns that his aging father’s nurse now stands to inherit the family home, he begins to doubt her intentions and takes his case to Botswana’s premier detective agency. Fortunately, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi are committed agents of justice and agree to investigate.
Tricky as these matters may be, Mma Ramotswe knows that the most creative solutions are often found with the support of loving friends and family. Working together over a cup of red bush tea, she and Mma Makutsi will rely on their tact, humor, and goodwill to ensure that all involved find the happiness that they deserve.
Isabel accepts an invitation to serve on the advisory committee of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, but soon finds herself swept up in an all-too-familiar dilemma. David is the grandson of a Scottish clan chief and is supportive of Scottish nationalism. But his fervent beliefs are threatening family harmony, especially because his sister Catriona's socialist views put her at odds with her brother. When their mother, Laura, a fellow committee member, asks Isabel to intervene, she tries to demur. But always one for courteous resolutions to philosophical disagreements, Isabel can't help but intercede.
In the meantime, Jamie, having criticized Isabel for getting involved in the affairs of others, does precisely that himself. Jamie is helping to select a new cellist for his ensemble, but he suspects that the conductor may be focused on something other than his favored candidate's cello skills.
With so many factors complicating matters, Isabel and Jamie will have to muster all their tact and charm to ensure that comity is reached between all these fractious parties.
In the microcosm of 44 Scotland Street, all of life’s richness is found in the glorious goings-on of its residents. There’s Domenica, whose anthropological training has honed her observations of her neighbors; Matthew, whose growing triplets are more than a handful; Bruce, whose challenge as ever is thinking of anything but himself; and Big Lou, who may just have found her shot at romance. And of course, there’s young Bertie Pollock, whose starry-eyed explorations of Edinburgh’s New Town are a touching reminder that life itself is an adventure and there’s joy to be found wherever you choose to look.
Grace Makutsi’s husband, Phuti, is in a bind. An international firm is attempting to undercut his prices in the office furniture market. Phuti has always been concerned with quality and comfort, but this new firm seems interested only in profits. To make matters worse, they have a slick new advertising campaign that seems hard to beat. Nonetheless with Mma Ramotswe’s help, Phtui comes up with a campaign that may just do the trick.
Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi is approached by an old friend who has a troubled son. Grace and Phuti agree to lend a hand, but the boy proves difficult to reach, and the situation is more than they can handle on their own. It will require not only all of their patience and dedication, but also the help of Mma Ramotswe and the formidable Mma Potokwani in order to help the child.
Faced with more than her fair share of domestic problems, Mma Makutsi deals with it all with her usual grace. That, along with the kindness, generosity, and good sense that the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is known for, assure us that in the end, all these matters will be set right.
Fans around the world adore the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its proprietor, Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe—with help from her loyal associate, Grace Makutsi—navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, good humor, and the occasional cup of tea.
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency received two Booker Judges’ Special Recommendations and was voted one of the International Books of the Year and the Millennium by the Times Literary Supplement.
Precious Ramotswe loves her dependable old van. Yes, it sometimes takes a bit longer to get going now, and it has developed some quirks over the years, but it has always gotten the job done. This time, though, the world—and Charlie—may be asking too much of it, for when he borrows the beloved vehicle, he returns it damaged. And, to make matters worse, the interior seems to have acquired an earthy smell that even Precious can’t identify.
But the olfactory issue is not the only mystery that needs solving. Mma Ramotswe is confronted by a distant relative, Blessing, who asks for help with an ailing cousin. The help requested is of a distinctly pecuniary nature, which makes both Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and Mma Makutsi suspicious. And there is no peace at home, either, as the new neighbors are airing their marital grievances rather loudly. Still, Mma Ramotswe is confident that the solutions to all of these difficulties are there to be discovered—as long as she is led by kindness, grace, and logic and can rely on the counsel of her friends and loved ones.
44 SCOTLAND STREET - Book 1
The residents and neighbors of 44 Scotland Street and the city of Edinburgh come to vivid life in these gently satirical, wonderfully perceptive serial novels, featuring six-year-old Bertie, a remarkably precocious boy—just ask his mother.
Welcome to 44 Scotland Street, home to some of Edinburgh's most colorful characters. There's Pat, a twenty-year-old who has recently moved into a flat with Bruce, an athletic young man with a keen awareness of his own appearance. Their neighbor, Domenica, is an eccentric and insightful widow. In the flat below are Irene and her appealing son Bertie, who is the victim of his mother’s desire for him to learn the saxophone and italian–all at the tender age of five.
Love triangles, a lost painting, intriguing new friends, and an encounter with a famous Scottish crime writer are just a few of the ingredients that add to this delightful and witty portrait of Edinburgh society, which was first published as a serial in The Scotsman newspaper.
Detective Ulf Varg is a man of refined tastes and quite familiar with the art scene in Malmö. So when art historian Anders Kindgren visits the Department of Sensitive Crimes to report a series of bizarre acts that have been committed against him, Ulf and his team swing into action. Fish stuffed into the vents of Kindgren’s car and a manipulated footnote in a recent publication would be cause enough for an investigation, but when a painting Kindgren had confidently appraised as genuine is later declared to be a fake, it’s clear that someone is out to tarnish his reputation.
Meanwhile, Ulf is also weathering personal issues, which quickly spiral out of control. When his lip-reading dog, Martin, engages in a contretemps with a squirrel that results in a grievous wound, Ulf must rush Martin to the veterinarian and weigh the merits of cosmetic surgery for animals. And later, when Martin’s blood is found in the back of Ulf’s classic Saab, Ulf finds himself the subject of a departmental investigation.
In the end, Ulf will have to muster all his detective skills and bureaucratic cunning to restore Kindgren’s reputation—as well as his own.
When Mma Potokwane suggests to Mma Ramotswe that she run for a seat on the Gaborone City Council, Mma Ramotswe is at first reluctant. But when she learns that developers plan to build the flashy Big Fun Hotel next to a graveyard, she allows herself to be persuaded. Her opponent is none other than Mma Makutsi’s old nemesis, Violet Sephotho, who is in the pocket of the hotel developers. Although Violet is intent on using every trick in the book to secure her election, Mma Ramotswe refuses to guarantee anything beyond what she can deliver; hence her slogan: “I can’t promise anything—but I shall do my best.”
Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has acquired a new client: one of her late father’s old friends, who was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. Charlie volunteers to be the lead investigator in the case to prove he’s ready to be more than an apprentice, as well as to impress a new girlfriend. With Charlie’s inquiries landing him in hot water and Election Day fast approaching, Mma Ramotswe will have to call upon her good humor and generosity of spirit to help the community navigate these thorny issues, and to prove that honesty and compassion will always carry the day.
These are their stories.
The first case: the small matter of a man stabbed in the back of the knee. Who would perpetrate such a crime and why? Next: a young woman's imaginary boyfriend goes missing. But how on earth do you search for someone who doesn't exist? And in the final investigation: eerie secrets that are revealed under a full moon may not seem so supernatural in the light of day. No case is too unusual, too complicated, or too, well insignificant for this squad to solve.
The team: Ulf “the Wolf” Varg, the top dog, thoughtful and diligent; Anna Bengsdotter, who's in love with Varg's car (and possibly Varg too); Carl Holgersson, who likes nothing more than filling out paperwork; and Erik Nykvist, who is deeply committed to fly fishing.
With the help of a rather verbose local police officer, this crack team gets to the bottom of cases other detectives can't or won't bother to handle. Equal parts hilarious and heartening, The Department of Sensitive Crimes is a tour de farce from a true master.
Precious Ramotswe is the eminently sensible and cunning proprietor of the only ladies’ detective agency in Botswana. In Tears of the Giraffe she tracks a wayward wife, uncovers an unscrupulous maid, and searches for an American man who disappeared into the plains many years ago. In the midst of resolving uncertainties, pondering her impending marriage to a good, kind man, Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, and the promotion of her talented secretary (a graduate of the Botswana Secretarial College, with a mark of 97 per cent), she also finds her family suddenly and unexpectedly increased by two.