The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Volume 1 - The Daddy & The Bone

Starring: Claire Benedict, Gbemisola Ikumelo, Joseph Marcell, Jude Akuwudike and Maynard Eziashi
BBC Audio
RRP: 12.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 405 67723 3
ISBN-10: 1 40567 723 6
Available 05 February 2007

Wayward daughters, missing husbands, philandering partners, curious con men - If you've got a problem, and no one else can help you, then pay a visit to Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only - and finest - female private detective, and her assistant, Mma Makutsi. Her methods may not be conventional, and her manner not exactly Miss Marple, but she's got warmth, wit and canny intuition on her side, not to mention Mr J.L.B. Matekoni, the charming proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. And Precious is going to need them all as she sets out on a series of cases that tumbles our heroine into a hotbed of strange situations and more than a little danger...

Warm, humorous and uplifting, Alexander McCall Smith's hugely popular novels featuring Precious Ramotswe, proprietor of Botswana's only female private detective agency, have become international best-sellers, sold over seven million copies, and been translated into 26 languages. These acclaimed productions bring the exotic world of the books vividly to life.

Volume 1 in this collection includes the episodes The Daddy and The Bone.

The Daddy introduces us to Mma Ramotswe as she embarks on her very first case as well as employing a new secretary, the resourceful and talented Mma Makutsi. Together, they must find the truth about a Daddy who appears to have returned from the dead - as well as investigating a wayward teenage girl and attempting to find a vanished child.

Their very first adventure sees them employed to work out whether a man is really the father of a woman. The woman suspects that he is an impostor, but can't be sure. The woman has a good job working in the bank - with two bedrooms in her house. A lot of men at the bank don't like it that a woman is doing better than them. So could someone be scamming her in order to stay at her house for free? Because the woman's mother is dead there is no way to check whether this man is her father - but Mma Ramotswe doesn't mess around and soon discovers the truth.

I couldn't help but laugh when Mma Ramotswe confronts the man. When she asks if he is the father of the woman, he says: "I am that man. I am the Daddy." Mma Ramotswe uses a very clever, if a little wicked, way of finding out if he is indeed the woman's father.

This case is then followed by another two cases (which are spread over this episode and the following one). Mma Ramotswe gets a letter asking for her help. Apparently the writer's little boy has disappeared and there is suspected foul play. She shows the letter to her good friend, and car mechanic, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. Days later he comes back to Mma Ramotswe with a small bone, he believes to be a boy's finger bone, that he has found in a car he has been working on in his garage. Is the owner of this car somehow mixed up in the disappearance of the boy? And the second job is for an old fashioned father of a young girl who wants her following, as he suspects she is secretly seeing a boy.

The Bone sees the determined duo attempting to finish their last two cases that they started in The Daddy. They must follow Mr Patel's daughter to find out whether she has a boyfriend. They must also solve the darker and more frightening case of the finger bone found in a car - does it belong to a missing boy snatched by a witch doctor?

These two tales unravel well. There is quite a lot of comedy in the Patel case as Mma Ramotswe thinks that she is a little better at following her target than she actually is. There is drama as Mma Ramotswe tackles the man who owns the bone finger. And there is also romance in the air for Mma Ramotswe. It appears that Mr J.L.B. Matekoni would like to service a little more than Mma Ramotswe's vehicle, given half the chance.

If you missed this when it was originally broadcast in 2004 then you really should treat yourself to this wonderfully entertaining series.

Pete Boomer

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