With his characteristic warmth, inventiveness and brilliant wit, Alexander McCall Smith gives us more of the gloriously entertaining comings and goings at 44 Scotland Street, the Edinburgh townhouse.
Six-year-old prodigy Bertie perseveres in his heroic struggle for truth and balanced good sense against his insufferable mother and her crony, the psychotherapist Dr Fairbairn, going as far as to make a short-lived bid for freedom on a trip to Paris with the Edinburgh youth orchestra. Domenica sets off on an anthropological odyssey with pirates in the Malacca Straits, while Pat attracts several handsome admirers, including a toothsome suitor named Wolf. And Big Lou, eternal source of coffee and good advice to her friends, has love, heartbreak and erstwhile boyfriend Eddie's misdemeanours on her own mind.
The irresistible third entry to the 44 Scotland Street series picks up with the residents of 44 Scotland Street where Espresso Tales left off and is as addictive as any book McCall Smith has written. Anthropologist Domenica has flown off to the Straits of Malacca to study modern-day pirates. Back in Edinburgh, Pat moves from 44 Scotland Street and develops a crush on fellow art student Wolf, whose strange ways hint at a darker subplot that involves Pat's flatmate. Pat moves in with gallery owner Matthew, who struggles with both a sudden fortune and a yearning for Pat. Meanwhile, child prodigy saxophonist Bertie becomes a reluctant member of the Edinburgh Teenage Orchestra at age six and later, on a trip to Paris, finds himself wonderfully unsupervised. Poet/portrait painter Angus is tormented by the theft of his beloved dog Cyrus. The proceedings sparkle with McCall Smith's trademark wit ("It was not always fun being a child, just as it had not always been fun being a medieval Scottish saint"), proving once again, he's a true treasure. Illustrations by Iain McIntosh enliven the text.