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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Listen to the book!, May 24 2004
By 
E. L. Weinhold "Lolly" (Maryland, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There is something about these books that really resonates with some readers. After reading the first novel, I did not really jump on the collective Botswana Bandwagon... I thought the books were nice, but found nothing exceptional about them. I am glad that I decided to continue with Book 2 though (that was my favorite so far in the series!) I decided to pick up the other books, starting with book 2, on Audio CD. I am much happier with the Audio CD versions than I was with reading the book. I found that reading the stories was a little tedious for me: The writing is very simplistic, and oftentimes the stories are very predictable. While these do show up in the Audio CD, I do not find myself as distracted by them as I did when I read the first two in the series. The reader, Lisette Lecat is absolutely superb. She is a native South African, and spent a number of years in Botswana. She knows the rhythm patterns and speech patterns of the people, and she distinguishes each character with a certain voice. This skill makes the dialogues much more interesting than reading them on the page, and her general narration really make the stories come alive for me. If it were not for her reading the books, I do not know if I would have stuck with this series.
The story of _Kalahari Typing School for Men_ was much like its immediate predecessor, _Morality for Beautiful Girls_. The novel focuses a great amount on the development of some characters, and leaves others "out to dry", and ultimately strays away from the things that made books 1 and 2 of the series so good: the cases, the interactions, and the values of the Botswana people. That is not to say that this book does not have any detective cases, but I find the novels have shifted from their original focus. However, one thing that I did like about this book is the increased role and development of Mma Makutsi. She is a great characters, and until book 3, Mma Makutsi existed in the shadows. I look forward to seeing her develop more in the next books.
I plan to LISTEN to book 5 very soon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not really a mystery, but, excellent..., Dec 1 2003
A cute, sleepy private eye story told form the perspective of Precious Ramotswe, and narrated well by Lisette Lecat. In this episode, we find Precious investigating two cases: that of a philandering husband, and that of an older man who once committed a crime and wishes to make amends.
What's good about this series is not the mystery. It's the characters and settings. I really got the flavor that I was in a small town in Botswana, and I enjoyed reading about Precious and her cohorts. If I have any criticism about this novel at all, there was a lack of suspense. The investigation was almost a non-event, and there was a bit too much dwelling in the past for my taste. Part of me wanted to tell the client: GET OVER IT ALREADY. The past is over and done with.
Still, a cute story, sure to delight readers who want a slice of African life without too much gritty realism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar!, June 20 2006
By 
B. Fillhouse (Warrington, VT) - See all my reviews
Alexander McCall Smith's fourth installment of his popular No. 1 Ladies Detective Agencies continues the story of Mma. Ramotswe, her fiance Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, her agency's assistant, Mma. Makutsi. For a while, Mma. Ramotswe's detective agency was the only agency in town until another agency owned by a man who had CID experience in Johannesburg and New York showed up and threathened their business. At the same time, a rich businessman showed up at the agency hoping to get Mma. Ramotswe's help to track down some people that he had wronged in the past. In addition, Mma. Makutsi, hoping to earn extra money set up the Kalahari Typing School for Men, which became a hit. I have enjoyed the other books in this series and this was equally delightful. The author focused more on the main characters' daily lives and their problems as opposed to actual cases. It's great that the readers get to learn more about the characters but at the same time, it would be better if the author had provided more cases for Mma. Ramotswe and her assistant to solve. Nevetheless, this is still a great book; it's easy to read, the characters are likeable and it's basically a fun read.

Also recommended: KATZENJAMMER by McCrae
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IRRESISTIBLE LISTENING, Sept. 5 2003
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Narrator Lisette Lecat, a native of South Africa, is a polished voice performer doubly blessed by a winning way with accents. She gives vibrant voice to the unconquerable Precious Ramotswe, proprietress of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
Possessed with intelligence and human intuition in an abundance that matched her girth Mma Ramotswe has familiarized herself with an instruction manual, "The Principles of Private Detection." Then, equipped with a "tiny white van,"minimal office equipment, an assistant, Mma Makutsi, and three mugs in which to brew redbush tea she opened for business.

She loves Botswana, and feels she knows "how to love the people who live in this place." It is her duty, she believes. "to help them solve the mysteries in their lives."
Much has happened since Mma Ramotswe first entertained these revelatory thoughts. Her business has flourished to the extent that she has been able to buy a home on Zebra Drive and, on the far side of her thirties, which she considers the "finest age to be" she has become engaged to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, the proud and proper owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.
Now, with the fourth in Alexander Smith's engaging series, "The Kalahari Typing School for Men," she has two adopted children in her care, and is confronted by a rival business run by a macho retired policeman who trumpets that only a man can be a proper detective.
Mma Makutsi also faces challenges. Her bank balance is anemic, and her life lacks romance. Then, quite suddenly, "a strikingly good idea" occurs to her: she would open a typing school for men. She realizes that men have to type in order to use computers, but did not learn to type correctly because "they are ashamed to say that they cannot type and they do not want to go and have to learn with a class full of girls."
An evening class held in a church hall so that others would think the men were going to a church meeting was the solution. Not only is the school an unqualified success, but there is extra-circular activity when a student becomes enamored with Mma Makutsi. Regrettably, there are complications in this pairing - complications that trouble Mma Ramotswe.
Equally distressing is Mma Ramotswe's latest client, Mr. Molefelo. Now, a well-to-do engineer Mr. Molefelo once committed what he considers to be egregious sins. He wants to make amends for past wrongs. Thus, it falls to Mma Ramotswe to find those he has misused.
These tasks aren't difficult for Botswana's No. 1 lady detective who, possessed with Solomon-like wisdom, also suggests precisely what Mr. Molefelo might do to achieve proper atonement.
Spare and neatly crafted, "The Kalahari Typing School For Men" sparkles with African sunshine and Mma Ramotswe's wit. It is refreshing and irresistible, leaving listeners eager for more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Precious Ramotswe has a great deal on her mind., June 23 2003
By 
E. Bukowsky "booklover10" (NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"The Kalahari Typing School for Men" is the fourth novel in Alexander McCall Smith's spectacularly successful series about a lady detective in Botswana. Precious Ramotswe is facing new challenges. A rival detective agency opens up nearby, and Mma. Ramotswe is worried about the competition. The two orphans whom she and Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni adopted are having problems. In addition, Mma. Ramotswe is worried about her assistant, Mma. Makutsi, who cannot seem to find a husband.
However, Mma. Ramotswe is an optimistic person by nature and she tries to set aside her worries. One way to forget her troubles is to take on new clients. Mma. Ramotswe accepts the case of a woman who suspects that her husband is being unfaithful. Another client is a wealthy man who wants Mma. Ramotswe to find two women whom he had wronged in the past. He wishes to apologize to them and make amends for his bad behavior.
As in his earlier books, Smith's writing is sweet, funny, understated and touching. Mma. Ramotswe again displays her keen insight into human nature and her empathy for those who are in pain. "The Kalahari Typing School for Men" is written simply but it is never simplistic. This novel will delight Alexander McCall Smith's fans, and it will make readers of this series impatient for the next installment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful view of African traditions, June 13 2003
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency has problems--a new competitor run by a man has opened in town. And with Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni returning from his long bout with depression, there's the problem of how to pay Mma. Makutsi--who has served as assistant detective and also acting manager of Matekoni's garage. Still, although the competitor threatens to steal some of their business, Mma. Ramotswe has some detecting jobs to do--including finding the people a client wronged many years before and whether a husband is cheating on his wife. In the meantime, Mma. Makutsi comes up with a brilliant idea--a typing school for men--men who wouldn't be caught dead in a secretarial college like Mma. Makutsi attended, but who need keyboard skills for their jobs. It's an ideal solution to her money problems and also a convenient way for the single Makutsi to discover a man.
Author Alexander McCall Smith loves Africa, its traditional ways of life, and the ways that its people (at least the people of Botswana) treat one another. His No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, including THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN are practically poetic in their praises of this traditional way of life. Mma. Ramotswe is the protagonist in these stories and the central pillar for tradition. Her detecting and the solutions to her clients problems flow from these African traditions (as interpreted by Smith) and prove heart-warming even in the midst of poverty and the AIDS crisis that has destroyed so much of Africa (AIDS is not mentioned by name in this novel but its impact is clear to see). Whether Smith's view of Africa has anything to do with the real continent is something I won't even attempt to decide, but it is certainly his view and his love for this Africa is obvious and compelling.
Smith's beautiful writing makes KALAHARI an enjoyable read that can be savored or swallowed in a gulp. The characters of Mma. Makutsi and Mma. Ramotswe are well drawn and interesting. KALAHARI is anything but a thriller, but it makes a wonderful diversion from the everyday.
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5.0 out of 5 stars IRRESISTIBLE LISTENING, Sept. 5 2003
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Narrator Lisette Lecat, a native of South Africa, is a polished voice performer doubly blessed by a winning way with accents. She gives vibrant voice to the unconquerable Precious Ramotswe, proprietress of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
Possessed with intelligence and human intuition in an abundance that matched her girth Mma Ramotswe has familiarized herself with an instruction manual, "The Principles of Private Detection." Then, equipped with a "tiny white van,"minimal office equipment, an assistant, Mma Makutsi, and three mugs in which to brew redbush tea she opened for business.

She loves Botswana, and feels she knows "how to love the people who live in this place." It is her duty, she believes. "to help them solve the mysteries in their lives."
Much has happened since Mma Ramotswe first entertained these revelatory thoughts. Her business has flourished to the extent that she has been able to buy a home on Zebra Drive and, on the far side of her thirties, which she considers the "finest age to be" she has become engaged to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, the proud and proper owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.
Now, with the fourth in Alexander Smith's engaging series, "The Kalahari Typing School for Men," she has two adopted children in her care, and is confronted by a rival business run by a macho retired policeman who trumpets that only a man can be a proper detective.
Mma Makutsi also faces challenges. Her bank balance is anemic, and her life lacks romance. Then, quite suddenly, "a strikingly good idea" occurs to her: she would open a typing school for men. She realizes that men have to type in order to use computers, but did not learn to type correctly because "they are ashamed to say that they cannot type and they do not want to go and have to learn with a class full of girls."
An evening class held in a church hall so that others would think the men were going to a church meeting was the solution. Not only is the school an unqualified success, but there is extra-circular activity when a student becomes enamored with Mma Makutsi. Regrettably, there are complications in this pairing - complications that trouble Mma Ramotswe.
Equally distressing is Mma Ramotswe's latest client, Mr. Molefelo. Now, a well-to-do engineer Mr. Molefelo once committed what he considers to be egregious sins. He wants to make amends for past wrongs. Thus, it falls to Mma Ramotswe to find those he has misused.
These tasks aren't difficult for Botswana's No. 1 lady detective who, possessed with Solomon-like wisdom, also suggests precisely what Mr. Molefelo might do to achieve proper atonement.
Spare and neatly crafted, "The Kalahari Typing School For Men" sparkles with African sunshine and Mma Ramotswe's wit. It is refreshing and irresistible, leaving listeners eager for more.

- Gail Cooke
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5.0 out of 5 stars REFRESHING AND TOTALLY IRRESISTIBLE, June 15 2003
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Hooked. That's what you are. After reading only a few pages of Alexander McCall Smith's delightful tale you're completely in this author's thrall. Episodes in the life of the incorrigible, unconquerable Precious Ramotswe, proprietress of Botswana's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, are endearing, amusing, and speckled with truths.
Possessed with intelligence and human intuition in an abundance that matched her girth Mma Ramotswe (the courteous form of address) has familiarized herself with an instruction manual, "The Principles of Private Detection." Then, equipped with a "tiny white van,"minimal office equipment, an assistant, Mma Makutsi, and three mugs in which to brew redbush tea she opened for business.

She loves Botswana, and feels she knows "how to love the people who live in this place." It is her duty, she believes. "to help them solve the mysteries in their lives." (Not the crimes, mind you, but the mysteries).
Much has happened since Mma Ramotswe first entertained these revelatory thoughts. Her business has flourished to the extent that she has been able to buy a home on Zebra Drive and, on the far side of her thirties, which she considers the "finest age to be" she has become engaged to Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni, the proud and proper owner of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.
Now, with the fourth in Alexander Smith's engaging series, "The Kalahari Typing School for Men," she has two adopted children in her care, and is confronted by a rival business run by a macho retired policeman who trumpets that only a man can be a proper detective.
Mma Makutsi also faces challenges. Her bank balance is anemic, and her life lacks romance. Then, quite suddenly, "a strikingly good idea" occurs to her: she would open a typing school for men. She realizes that men have to type in order to use computers, but did not learn to type correctly because "they are ashamed to say that they cannot type and they do not want to go and have to learn with a class full of girls."
An evening class held in a church hall so that others would think the men were going to a church meeting was the solution. Once the idea was fully formed in her mind Mma Makutsi is so elated that "she began to gyrate round the office in celebratory dance, ululating quietly as she did so, her right hand moving backward and forward before her mouth."
Not only is the school an unqualified success, but there is extra-circular activity when a student becomes enamored with Mma Makutsi. Regrettably, there are complications in this pairing - complications that trouble Mma Ramotswe.
Equally distressing is Mma Ramotswe's latest client, Mr. Molefelo. Now, a well-to-do engineer Mr. Molefelo once committed what he considers to be egregious sins. He wants to make amends for past wrongs. Thus, it falls to Mma Ramotswe to find those he has misused.
These tasks aren't difficult for Botswana's No. 1 lady detective who, possessed with Solomon-like wisdom, also suggests precisely what Mr. Molefelo might do to achieve proper atonement.
Spare and neatly crafted, "The Kalahari Typing School For Men" sparkles with African sunshine and Mma Ramotswe's wit. It is refreshing and irresistible, leaving readers eager for more.

- Gail Cooke
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, Feb. 3 2014
By 
Peter Jones (Springfield, IL) - See all my reviews
The Kalahari Typing School for Men is an extremely interesting story. McCall's great concept and an outstanding execution came up with a story like this that deserves all the applause that it has been given. I greatly enjoyed the book and recommend it to readers interested in McCall's stories or interested in books about Africa.I equally liked The Usurper and other Stories, Graceland, The Cupboard full of life. It is short to read, fast-paced and entertaining. Loved it.
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The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency)
The Kalahari Typing School for Men (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency) by Alexander McCall Smith (Paperback - 2002)
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