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By CLEA SIMON  |  March 16, 2009

Despite a respectful attitude toward the book — much of the dialogue is verbatim — Minghella and Curtis have condensed the considerable back story of Ramotswe's youth and alluded to her unhappy first marriage largely through well-placed flashbacks. In addition, the book's episodic nature is gently massaged, with the opening case of Happy Bapetsi stretched to recur throughout the first part of the pilot and the more serious case of a missing child introduced earlier. Of course, even with these changes, not much happens in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. But that, Precious Ramotswe would probably say, is how things have always been, and how they should remain.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency | HBO: begins March 29 @ 8 PM

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