No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
I do love Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books--better than the Hercule Poirot mysteries. I like the Fr. Brown mysteries over Sherlock Holmes, too. I guess that shows I prefer the unconventional detective over the "super" detective. But, that's only part of the reason why I love the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series so much.
These books take place in Gabarone, Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith does a fantastic job of describing Botswana enough that I can picture the scenery without bogging down the story. The unconventional detective in this series is Precious Ramotswe, who uses her inheritance to open a detective agency. Mma Ramotswe has many adventures in each book. Some cases she takes turn out to be humorous, some heart-warming or heart-tugging, and others start out simple enough but end up getting the detective into danger. As the series goes on, we get to better know Mma Ramotswe's friend Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni and her secretary Mma Makutsi--both fantastic characters. This series is full of wonderful stories and characters that make me feel like I'm at home with them whenever I open the book. The stories in this series are usually not intense, but are always enjoyable. I recommend reading the books in order because the lives of the characters progress throughout the series. The books are not numbered so I've listed the series below. Don't miss out on the wonderful world of Precious Ramotswe.
1-No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
2-Tears of the Giraffe
3-Mortality for Beautiful Girls
4-The Kalahari Typing School for Men
5-The Full Cupboard of Life
6-In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
7-Blue Shoes and Happiness
8-The Good Husband at Zebra Drive
9-The Miracle at Speedy Motors
10-Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
11-The Double Comfort Safari Club
12-The Saturday Big Tent Wedding
13-The Limpopo Academy of Private Detecting (due out 4/3/12)