Books - Review

Showing all books by: Alexander McCall Smith

The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Precious is Botswana's first lady private detective and manages to solve a bunch of interesting cases in a very human and endearing way.
Cool. Very nice.
Score: 7
Published: 1998
Read: April 18th 2004

Tears of the Giraffe
Precious gets engaged to the nice chap who runs Speedy Motors, and he adopts a couple of kids from the orphanage - without telling her first! But that works out OK, and the kids seem very nice. Precious does some good detecting along the way too, finding out what happened to the American boy who disappeared from the farming project 10 years ago, and her newly promoted assistant detective does a good job with the case of the bloke whose wife is playing around, dealing expertly with the dreadful moral dilemmas that the case generates.
Really good, very nice, gentle, thoughtful stories.
Score: 7.5
Published: tbc
Read: June 19th 2004

Morality for Beautiful Girls
Mma Ramotswe faces new challenges as her garage-owning fiance gets depressed, and she has to sort out the winner of a beauty-contest.
Jolly good.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2001
Read: February 7th 2005

The 2 1/2 Pillars of Wisdom
Short stories about German author of Irregular Portuguese Verbs.
Very good
Score: 7
Published: tbc
Read: March 29th 2006

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
More life in Botswana at the Detective Agency with Mma Ramotswe's treasured white van being nicked, and the assistant lady gets an admirer.
More of the same gentle entertainment.
Score: 7
Published: 2004
Read: April 15th 2006

The Sunday Philosophy Club
Isabel Dalhousie sees a man fall to his death at the opera and gets herself a bit involved in investigating whether he fell, or was pushed. She also has to sort out her niece who is struggling to find the right bloke, and deal with her forthright housekeeper.
Quite good, easy read, reminded me of that detective lady in Botswana a bit, only in Edinburgh. Still, a nice, gentle, easy read.
Score: 7
Published: 2004
Read: January 31st 2007

44 Scotland Street
Student Pat, on her second gap year, moves into a room on Scotland Street and gets to know her vain flatmate, and her wise and friendly neighbour. She gets a job in a gallery, employed by Mathew, and together with a whole bunch of other characters they... Well, all pretty forgettable really.
Very moreish, but the standard light froth. Written originally as a series of daily short stories for a newspaper. Borrowed this from Richard during his moving house weekend.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2005
Read: March 30th 2008

Espresso Tales
More stories of life in Edinburgh (and a little bit of Glasgow, with Lardy Jim or whatever his name was) mostly told from gap-year Pat's point of view, still sharing a flat with the vain bloke, who gets sacked and tries to start up a wine-business. One good thread was the genius 6 year old who is constantly harrassed by his mum to learn Italian and the saxophone (Grade 7!). Eventually he rebels along with his father who re-paints his room from pink to white.
Pretty good. Cappucino would be better than Espresso though - because of the light froth...?
Score: 7.5
Published: 2005
Read: April 1st 2008

The World According to Bertie
More tales from the residents of 44 Scotland Street. This time Bertie is suffering again as his mum has repainted his room pink, and having passed Grade 7 on the saxophone he is now having to study for Grade 8. He's still having psychotherapy too, but he finds it interesting that his new born brother closely resembles the doctor. In other news, vain Bruce gets trapped into engagement, but by a dim rich girl, Pat and Matthew split up as Matthew falls in love with Bertie's teacher, and Angus the artist gets reunited with his dog who spends much of the book under arrest for biting someone - but it turns out to be a case of mistaken identity.
Fun, and enjoyable - I looked forward to seeing how each character's plot developed (except Dominica and her odd neighbour who were a bit dull). Borrowed this from Richard and Michelle during our weekend visit to the RA Summer Exhibition.
Score: 7
Published: 2007
Read: July 24th 2008

Love Over Scotland
Life at No. 44 continues, with Pat deciding maybe she does fancy Matthew, Bertie enjoying himself with the Scottish Teenage Orchestra on a trip to Paris, Domenica doing battle with pirates in the Straits of Malacca, and Angus loses and finds his dog (again?).
Quite entertaining for an aeroplane read from Eastleigh to Amsterdam.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2006
Read: November 21st 2010

La's Orchestra Saves the World
La, divorced then widowed, escapes her life in London to live in deepest rural Suffolk. Life seems quiet and dull but as WW2 breaks out she finds she can apply herself to make a difference in a small way. She meets a disabled Polish airman who helps on the farm and joins her village orchestra, and she thinks she is falling in love... But does he have a hidden secret - and can she allow her feelings to take precedence over the demands of wartime?
Very nice. Not too deep, not too complicated, but with enough plot elements to keep you interested, and he creates plenty of sympathy for the characters. His writing style seems so simple, but very effective.
Score: 8
Published: 2008
Read: August 9th 2012

Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers
Bertie stars in this one, turning seven, his mother goes on a big trip which everyone finds liberating and all the other characters do some things too.
Readable, amusing, light, smart. Repeatable.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2013
Read: October 20th 2014