The first tale in Alexander McCall Smith's cozy mystery series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency was voted one of the International Books of the Year and the Millennium by London's Times Literary Supplement. The agency at first consists of one woman: the charismatic Mma Precious Ramotswe ("the Miss Marple of Botswana"—NYTBR), who specializes in rooting out missing husbands and wayward daughters, con men and imposters. "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."—Sunday Telegraph (London)
Precious Ramotswe is content, in her detective business and in her life in a small town in Botswana, in this fourth book of the series (following Morality for Beautiful Girls). She is in her mid 30s, has her own house, two adopted children, and a fine fiancé. However, she doesn't have a date set for her marriage, her able assistant also wants a husband, and far more troubling, a new detective agency has opened in town—one that doesn't have the gentle approach to business that Mma Ramotswe does.