Alexander McCall Smith is one prolific writer. This gentleman must surely write with a dictaphone strapped to his wrist. He’s enthralled us with the Botswana mysteries,the Portuguese Irregular Verbs, the Isabel Dalhousie series, and the Edinburgh-set 44 Scotland Street series.

Now from somewhere up his left sleeve, the magical Scotsman has managed to produce yet another start of what promises to be a series filled with a collection of the kind of quirky characters that make his writing so endearing.

Set in London, Corduroy Mansions is the affectionate nickname of a crumbling mansion block in Pimlico, a vibrant, just-slightly seedy neighborhood. We meet William, a wine merchant determined to have his 24 yr-old son leave the nest and find his own digs and a decent job; Marcia is the boutique caterer who yearns to be more than William’s friend.

MP Oedipus Snark, aptly named, frustrates most people who come within his circle, including his girlfriend Barbara, a literary agent who really should know better; his mother, analyst Berthea, is writing Snark’s biography, even though she hates her son. Berthea also has her brother to look after. There are art students and, lest I forget, the delightful Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico terrier of exceptional intellect who insists on wearing a seat belt and is a vegetarian.

This very readable book goes down smoothly like a glass of exceptional cabernet. End your summer with a great read like this little jewel.

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