Books by Alexander McCall Smith

THE MINOR ADJUSTMENT BEAUTY SALON by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 5, 2013

"A little slower-moving and more diffuse than many of the 13 preceding volumes in this celebrated series (The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, 2012, etc.), but it's no more than you'd expect from a heroine whose fleetness has never been as big a draw as her wisdom."
Two and a half new cases for Precious Ramotswe, who presides over the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Read full book review >
WHAT W.H. AUDEN CAN DO FOR YOU by Alexander McCall Smith
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"A lovely yet overstretched article or essay topic; there's earnest enthusiasm aplenty but not enough else to support a full book."
A beloved author waxes poetic on an unlikely muse: the poet W.H. Auden. Read full book review >
BERTIE PLAYS THE BLUES by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 8, 2013

"Even more lightweight and inconsequential than previous installments in its abrupt inflation and deflation of domestic dilemmas. Yet, the neighborhood's legion of fans will devour each chapter and be sorry when they've turned the last page."
Eighty more bite-sized chapters bring curious readers up to date on the latest doings at 44 Scotland Street and its Edinburgh environs (The Importance of Being Seven, 2012, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 26, 2012

"Gently but invincibly obtuse, von Igelfeld is too much an elephantine cartoon to inspire the love readers have given Precious Ramotswe and Isabel Dalhousie."
Prolific McCall Smith, who's unaccountably neglected Professor Dr. Dr. (honoris causa) (mult.) Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld ever since the trilogy that ended with At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (2004), presents five more adventures for the eminent but clueless philologist. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 23, 2012

"Middling for Isabel's deliciously essayistic adventures (The Forgotten Affairs of Youth, 2011, etc.) among the moral conundrums posed by crime, romance and people you meet in shops."
Isabel Dalhousie's ninth case, if you can call it that, casts the editor and owner of the Review of Applied Ethics in her strangest role yet. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 21, 2012

"Another charming demonstration that it's better to travel hopefully than to arrive—a motto that might stand for every soap opera ever written."
85 more snapshots of the tenants of 44 Scotland Street and their friends and lovers. Read full book review >
A CONSPIRACY OF FRIENDS by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 2012

"This third volume of Chekhovian soap opera is every bit as addictive as the first two. Fans will be sad to see any of the plots tied up, even by happy endings, and hope for more complications next season."
The third installment in a series concerning the denizens of London's Corduroy Mansions. Read full book review >
Released: April 3, 2012

"One case where an adaptation from an adult book is as much fun to read as the original. (Mystery. 7-12)"
How did Precious Ramotswe, the detective in the bestselling The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, get her start? Read full book review >
THE LIMPOPO ACADEMY OF PRIVATE DETECTION by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 3, 2012

Three relatively ordinary cases for Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency are complicated by an altogether-extraordinary meeting.

Mma Silvia Potokwane, the traditionally built matron of the orphan farm, tells Precious Ramotswe that there's something not quite right about board member Ditso Ditso, the well-known businessman who's insisted on building a central kitchen for the facility that will make food preparation and delivery more efficient but less loving. Read full book review >

THE FORGOTTEN AFFAIRS OF YOUTH by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 6, 2011

Edinburgh philosopher Isabel Dalhousie's cases often register low on the crime meter, but this one—the search for a new acquaintance's father—is 100 percent felony-free. Read full book review >
Released: June 21, 2011

"Like Henry James, Smith clearly believes that relations stop nowhere; unlike James, he seems determined to trace every single one of them to its vanishing point."
Seventy-eight more slices of low-key comedy, originally serialized in the Daily Telegraph, concerning the denizens of Pimlico's Corduroy Mansions and their lovers, friends and unavoidable relatives. Read full book review >
THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: March 1, 2011

"Nothing very mysterious here, of course, but the solution to the problem of those dead cattle is wonderfully inconclusive, and you'll never get through the wedding with dry eyes."
Four last-minute complications for the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency to sort out before associate detective Grace Makutsi can tie the knot with furniture salesman Phuti Radiphuti. Read full book review >
THE CHARMING QUIRKS OF OTHERS by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Oct. 12, 2010

"A powerful demonstration of Smith's ability to dramatize the ways everyday situations spawn the ethical dilemmas that keep philosophers in business."
Edinburgh moral philosopher Isabel Dalhousie's seventh round of adventures among ethical conundrums (The Lost Art of Gratitude, 2009, etc.) marks her finest hour to date. Read full book review >
THE DOUBLE COMFORT SAFARI CLUB by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 20, 2010

"All these problems are solved with Mma Ramotswe's customary grace and wisdom, though it would take a sharp reader to see which of them will prove the most intransigent."
Mma Precious Ramotswe's 11th full cupboard of cases takes her from her office in Gaborone into a safari camp to track down the elusive heir to an unexpected legacy. Read full book review >
THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF SCONES by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 5, 2010

Life goes on, and on in this fifth helping of luminously understated adventures for the denizens of 44 Scotland Street and environs. Read full book review >
LA’S ORCHESTRA SAVES THE WORLD by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Dec. 8, 2009

"Like Chekhov, Smith shows his heroine, who believes that "music could make a difference in the temper of the world," triumphing over the details of everyday life by immersing herself in them so completely that she achieves an apotheosis in the reflection, "I have been a handmaiden.""
Gravely charming stand-alone from the chronicler of Mma Precious Ramotswe and Isabel Dalhousie (The Lost Art of Gratitude, 2009, etc.) sees an aggressively ordinary English widow through the dark days of World War II. Read full book review >
THE LOST ART OF GRATITUDE by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 22, 2009

Inspired and encouraged by verses from W.H. Auden, Edinburgh philosopher Isabel Dalhousie again confronts wickedness masquerading as mere crime. Read full book review >
TEA TIME FOR THE TRADITIONALLY BUILT by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 21, 2009

"Episodes in Smith's series, like those in a long-running sitcom, have stopped competing with each other as better or worse and instead have gelled into a self-contained world into which audiences enter with pleasure and gratitude. Here's more of the same."
Mma Precious Ramotswe wrestles with a timeless problem—to cling to the old or embrace the new—in her tenth adventure. Read full book review >
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BERTIE by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 11, 2008

"The best parts go to horrible Bruce, treasurable Bertie and Bertie's monstrous little schoolmate Olive. To be continued."
One hundred more slices of life from 44 Scotland Street and environs (Love Over Scotland, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
THE COMFORTS OF A MUDDY SATURDAY by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 23, 2008

"Another insubstantial yet deeply rooted paean to Isabel's status as an "intermeddler" whose reasoning begins where other literary sleuths' ends."
Even more than her first four adventures, Isabel Dalhousie's fifth is a record of complications that constantly challenge her ethical faculties while charmingly failing to disturb her tranquility. Read full book review >
THE MIRACLE AT SPEEDY MOTORS by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 15, 2008

"If there are fewer funny moments than in Mma Ramotswe's previous cases (Good Husband of Zebra Drive, 2007, etc.), there's a deepening gravity and sweetness you won't find anywhere else in the genre."
Mma Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's foremost detective, witnesses a miracle, though not the one she was hoping for. Read full book review >
LOVE OVER SCOTLAND by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 6, 2007

"Irresistible stuff. As Antonia wonders of Domenica: "Why did she bother going to the Malacca Straits when all this was going on downstairs?""
The denizens of 44 Scotland Street (Espresso Tales, 2006, etc.) spread their wings in the third volume of their ever more far-flung adventures, originally published as 113 daily installments in The Scotsman. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Smith offers three separate food-related short stories in which children help adults solve problems: One boy finds the recipe for the perfect hamburger spice; another helps untangle a mass of spaghetti; and a third deals with a doughnut glut during a benefit bake sale. Read full book review >

THE CAREFUL USE OF COMPLIMENTS by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 7, 2007

"Emphasizing, as usual, ethical quiddities that most mysteries either ignore or take for granted, Smith produces another absorbing case in which Isabel doesn't so much detect as interfere in a quietly masterful way more frivolous sleuths can only envy."
Though she feels blessed by her niece Cat's ex-lover and their baby, Isabel Dalhousie's life is anything but settled in this fourth gently probing adventure (Espresso Tales, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
THE GOOD HUSBAND OF ZEBRA DRIVE by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 17, 2007

"Only Mma Ramotswe's case ends up amounting to anything. But the outpouring of mercy it provokes casts a welcome new light on Smith's beloved Botswana, where everyone is honest and polite, except for the ones who aren't."
Everyone's a detective in this eighth peek into the files of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Blue Shoes and Happiness, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 11, 2006

"Vintage Smith, of a body and bouquet that even Bruce would appreciate."
Further adventures of the inhabitants of the Edinburgh townhouse that provided the primary setting for this novel's beguiling predecessor, 44 Scotland Street (2005). Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2006

            Smith is back with another series for young readers, this time with a girl as the protagonist.  Harriet Bean, like Smith's beloved adult book characters, has an interest in detective work. Read full book review >

BLUE SHOES AND HAPPINESS by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 18, 2006

"The dénouement, which brings Mma Ramotswe face to face with evil, is the perfect climax to a tale as refreshing as a month in the country—the country of Botswana."
A seventh bulging file of cases for Mma Precious Ramotswe and the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, most of them offering no hope of profit except to lucky readers. Read full book review >
AKIMBO AND THE CROCODILE MAN by Alexander McCall Smith
Released: April 1, 2006

Akimbo's third adventure resembles his earlier experiences. Read full book review >

FRIENDS, LOVERS, CHOCOLATE by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 20, 2005

"Beneath the slender mystery is a celebration of Isabel's fallible but resolutely ethical approach to life, charming and light but with a refreshingly unapologetic gravitas."
Gently starchy Edinburgh ethicist Isabel Dalhousie (The Sunday Philosophy Club, 2004) slips into another sedate but vexing mystery. Read full book review >
AKIMBO AND THE ELEPHANTS by Alexander McCall Smith
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

Well before Smith became known for his deft, book club pleasing Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, he penned sweet stories of Akimbo, the intrepid, nature-loving African boy. Read full book review >

44 SCOTLAND STREET by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 14, 2005

"And who else would trouble to inform us that "The Emperor Justinian, . . . believed that homosexuality caused earthquakes"? Sheer readerly bliss."
The lives, loves and (numerous) eccentricities of the residents of an Edinburgh boardinghouse. Read full book review >
IN THE COMPANY OF CHEERFUL LADIES by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 19, 2005

"Smith maintains the most civilized standards in the annals of detective fiction. But now, for the first time, he plots as if he actually means it."
The finest hour yet for Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which is tracking a defalcating Zambian financier even though it "preferred to deal with more domestic matters." Read full book review >
THE FINER POINTS OF SAUSAGE DOGS by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 4, 2005

"Only two flaws mar Smith's delicate comedy: The 50-page "Father Christmas" lacks the shorter adventures' light touch, and we never do get to hear the complete text of either of von Igelfeld's crucial lectures. (Illus. throughout with b&w block prints)"
Prof. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld's second volume of adventures is bookended by a pair of memorable lectures and a pair of his own obituaries. Read full book review >
AT THE VILLA OF REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 4, 2005

"Though the first story is piffle, the second is a worthy apotheosis for Smith's charmingly clueless pedagogue. (Illus. throughout with b&w block prints)"
Smith completes the saga of Prof. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld (see below) with a pair of long stories that transport him to Cambridge University and a faded Colombia salon. Read full book review >
PORTUGUESE IRREGULAR VERBS by Alexander McCall Smith
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 4, 2005

"Like these lovable antiheroes of the past, von Igelfeld remains a gentle figure who deserves every cartoon anvil that falls on his head but retains his dignity and goodness throughout. (Illus. throughout with b&w block prints)"
First in the three cycles of stories introducing quietly hapless Prof. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, of the Institute of Romance Philology. Read full book review >
THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 28, 2004

Smith puts the chronicles of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency on hold to explore an equally civilized Edinburgh criminal scene that Ian Rankin's DI John Rebus would never recognize. Read full book review >
THE FULL CUPBOARD OF LIFE by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 20, 2004

"As usual in this enchanting series, Mma Ramotswe provides less detection than advice, and wise advice it turns out to be, even when her clients decline to take it."
Another charmingly gossamer mystery for Botswana's premier detective. Read full book review >
THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 29, 2003

It's a good thing that Precious Ramotswe (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, 2001, etc.) has consolidated the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in anticipation of consolidating her personal life—moving its headquarters back of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, the establishment owned by Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, her fiancé—because the not-so-mean streets of Gaborone are teeming with problems only she can solve. Mr. Molofelo, a prosperous civil engineer from Lobatse, throws himself on her as a confessor, then asks her to find two women he wronged when he was a young man years ago: Tebogo Bathopi, the nursing student whom he insisted have the abortion he made necessary, and Mma Tsolamosese, the landlady whose radio he stole in order to finance the abortion. Read full book review >

THE LOST ART OF GRATITUDE by Alexander McCall Smith
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 1, 2001

"The first American publication of this 1999 debut has been preceded by two special Booker citations and two sequels, Tears of the Giraffe (2000) and Morality for Beautiful Girls (2001), both forthcoming in the series.

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Botswana's only female detective, Precious Ramotswe—whose investigation of whether the father who's incontinently turned up on the doorstep of Happy Bapetsi, who's been getting along fine without him, is really her father edges her toward considerably darker waters—isn't just ready to confront everything from theft to kidnapping to murder: she's ready for prime time. Read full book review >

Released: June 1, 1991

One of two collections initiating the ``International Folk Tale'' series. Read full book review >