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Alexander McCall Smith has written more than fifty books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children's books. But he is best known for his internationally acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, published in the US in 2002 and 2003. The first installment, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, received two Booker Judge's Special Recommendations upon its U.K. publication in 1998, and in 2003 received The Saga Wit Award (commonly known as the "silver Booker" for authors over the age of 50). The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series now numbers a total of five books (he is working on the sixth) and has been optioned for feature film. The series has become an international bestseller, with more than 3.5 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.
McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe (formerly called Southern Rhodesia) and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. He was for many years Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, and a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States (where he has twice been visiting professor at SMU Law School in Dallas, Texas).
In addition to his university work, he was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO.
Alexander McCall Smith currently lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth (an Edinburgh doctor), their two daughters Lucy and Emily, and their cat Gordon. His hobbies include playing wind instruments, and he is the co-founder of an amateur orchestra called "The Really Terrible Orchestra" in which he plays the bassoon and his wife plays the flute.
Noah and Hatty are thrilled when they discover their Uncle Lofty owns a zoo. But Uncle Lofty is no longer able to look after the animals and has decided he needs to get them back to their own homes. Although he has a boat, he has a boat but he needs helpers! Soon Noah and Hatty, together with their Aunt Smiley who looks after them while their parents do their special work far from home, and a lively group of animals including the very lively Monkey Robertson, are off round the world finding out a lot about animals as they do so!
An absolutely charming addition to a much loved series. There is something so uplifting about these novels, Alexander McCall Smith has the ability to embrace the intimate in order to open far-reaching views. Mma Ramotswe is troubled by a strange smell in her van, her new neighbour causes concern, and a distant cousin asks for help. Can you believe that we are now at book twenty-one in this evocative series which began with The No:1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in 1998? Do you have a favourite, I think this could well be mine…though as with all good series that create a world for you to inhabit, the latest usually becomes your most treasured! There is a graceful ease to the words of Alexander McCall Smith, he is so gently yet evocatively descriptive and as soon as I started to read a sense of ease enveloped me. The pace slows, the small things matter, and Mma Ramotswe is just glorious.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month August 2020 | Noah and Hatty are thrilled when they discover their Uncle Lofty owns a zoo. But Uncle Lofty is no longer able to look after the animals and has decided he needs to get them back to their own homes. Although he has a boat, he has a boat but he needs helpers! Soon Noah and Hatty, together with their Aunt Smiley who looks after them while their parents do their special work far from home, and a lively group of animals including the very lively Monkey Robertson, are off round the world finding out a lot about animals as they do so!
Spring is coming slowly to Sweden - though not quite as slowly as Detective Ulf Varg's promised promotion at the Department of Sensitive Crimes. For Varg, referred by his psychoanalyst to group therapy at Malmoe's Wholeness Centre, life now seems mostly a circle of self-examination, something which may or may not be useful when it comes to the nature of his profession and the particularly sensitive cases that have recently come to light. All in a day's work for Detective Varg, except that one of his new investigations involves fellow detective Anna; it will require every ounce of self-discipline he has in order to remain professional. The other, more curious case is centred around internationally successful novelist Nils Personn-Cederstroem. According to his girlfriend, Cederstroem is being blackmailed - but by whom and for what reason? Accompanied by his irritating but kindly colleague Blomquist, Varg begins his enquiries and soon the answers fall neatly into place. Nothing and no one is ever that simple, however, and not for the first time he learns as much about his own emotional and moral landscape as he does about the motives of others. Now Varg must make a possibly life-changing decision. Will he choose his own happiness over that of his heart's desire?
The first book in Alexander McCall Smith's new Detective Varg series . . . The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced us to Scandi noir. Now, welcome to Alexander McCall Smith's world of Scandi blanc, where mysteries abound and there is still so much for a Swedish detective to learn. Ulf Varg works in Malmoe's Department of Sensitive Crimes. Like all Scandinavian detectives, he has his issues. In this case, these include his unresolved feelings for his colleague Anna, his impatience over the seeming incompetence of his irritating colleague Blomquist and his concerns for the health of his hearing-impaired dog Martin, the only dog in Sweden (and possibly all Scandinavia) who can lip-read. Soon, Ulf and his colleagues find themselves investigating an attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may not exist and a group of students whose relationships leave a great deal to be desired . . .
There’s all the fun of the circus in Alexander McCall Smith’s new series, and a satisfying bit of junior sleuthing. Young Billy, Fern and Joe are performers in their family circus, but there’s a bit of Sherlock Holmes about them too: as their friend Mr Birdcage points out, they’re clever, and they like helping people. So when they notice a sad boy in the audience and find out his granny has gone missing, they set about finding her, using some of their circus skills in the process. Readers will be delighted to know that the circus’s troupe of dog stars play a part as well. It’s a lovely story and as ever filled with the all-embracing sense of kindness and integrity that is characteristic of McCall Smith’s writing.
The Champions are poor but happy. Each of them - Mum, Alex and Grandpa Gus - has their own job and works hard. Mum is a sandwich maker, Gus mends cars, Max mows lawns and sometimes washes cars too, which is how he discovers that Grandpa Gus used to design and make them. The story of how Grandpa was cheated out of his business by the unscrupulous Grabber family, and how Max manages to make things right again, is told in this charming new story from Alexander McCall Smith. Funny, exciting and with a proper sense of decency and fair play this will definitely appeal to readers. Kate Hindley’s illustrations lively illustrations are an extra treat.
Twins Ben and Fee will be the envy of children everywhere: their school is a tall ship and alongside ordinary lessons they learn seamanship and how to sail. No surprise therefore that there’s plenty of opportunity for adventure, which in this latest episode actually takes place on land, although in Australia, the end point of their latest voyage. The action is pretty well non-stop, and in a satisfying sub-plot, some of the threats come from the actions of an unprincipled group of fellow-students. This is another thrilling adventure with an underlying message about fair-play and doing the right thing.
April 2018 Book of the Month | The Champions are poor but happy. Each of them - Mum, Alex and Grandpa Gus - has their own job and works hard. Mum is a sandwich maker, Gus mends cars, Max mows lawns and sometimes washes cars too, which is how he discovers that Grandpa Gus used to design and make them. The story of how Grandpa was cheated out of his business by the unscrupulous Grabber family, and how Max manages to make things right again, is told in this charming new story from Alexander McCall Smith. Funny, exciting and with a proper sense of decency and fair play this will definitely appeal to readers. Kate Hindley’s illustrations lively illustrations are an extra treat.
February 2018 Book of the Month | Hari lives in a biggish city in India with his sister and aunt. He’s always cheerful and enjoys helping support them all delivering tiffin boxes for the nearby take-away and running his own sweet-making business. He spends some of the proceeds on tickets to the cinema and particularly likes musicals. When he accidentally stumbles onto a real film set, his special talent is suddenly revealed: when Hari dances, everyone has to join in. It makes him a local celebrity then, with the help of his friend Mr Ram, Hari uses his gift to spread happiness further afield. The story is as tempting and delicious as Hari’s coconut barfi, and its engaging narrator will have readers almost convinced it’s a true story; the world would certainly be a better place if it was. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.
Alexander McCall Smith has taken the ever-popular set up for a proper children’s story – group of plucky kids, no parents – and added to the scope for adventure tenfold by setting it on a tall ship. Twins Ben and Fee have grown up on a submarine because their parents are marine scientists. Now, nearly 13, it’s time they went to school and they are enrolled at a very unusual one: the School Ship Tobermory. They’ve only just begun to learn the ropes when they and their new friends spot some suspicious activity on board another ship supposedly being used in a film. The story is great fun, with some real suspense, and the descriptions of life afloat make it sound very tempting indeed: readers will agree with Ben when he decides that there’s nothing better than being at sea with friends, the empty sky above you and the wind in your hair. ~ Andrea Reece
Alexander McCall Smith gives the boarding school story a refreshing nautical makeover in this second dashing adventure for twins Ben and Fee. The twins attend School Ship Tobermory, a boarding school on a boat in Tobermory harbour. Having uncovered a hidden secret on another boat, the Albatross, on their arrival at the school, the twins are looking forward to enjoying some more relaxed school days. But the everyday school routine is soon disrupted and the twins and their school friends are off on another adventure involving present-day pirates and an island in the Caribbean. A lively adventure with an unusual setting.~ Julia Eccleshare