The publishing world is full of romantic stories, not every one with a happy ending. (I was brought up on the tale, possibly apocryphal, that Evelyn Waugh’s brother-in-law, Edward Grant, kept a framed copy of his letter turning down Gone with the Wind in his office.) One truly happy story, however, so far without an end, is that of Alexander McCall Smith. With a day job as Professor of Medical Law at Edinburgh University, he is the author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, creator of the immortal Mma Precious Ramotswe, she of the ‘traditional’ Botswana build. Published originally in hardback by the small Edinburgh firm of Polygon, the series has now sold millions worldwide, its fame spread by that surest of all methods, delighted-reader recommendation.