To the casual observer, the great enlightened city of Edinburgh, home of no-nonsense philosophers and cream teas, might appear immune to the rollercoaster of strong emotions. But at 44 Scotland Street, as Matthew and Elspeth embark on the risky enterprise of married love, the raffish portrait painter Angus Lordie has a premonition of disaster. And soon enough Irene Pollock is shocked to learn that her small son Bertie harbours a highly unsuitable ambition; the gloriously vain Bruce discovers a wrinkle and confronts rejection; and Angus finds himself facing the grave consequences of unbridled bliss, not to mention a large Glaswegian gangster bearing gifts . . .
Fans of bestseller Smith's two mystery series set in Botswana and Edinburgh will find the same understanding, affectionate look at human frailties and foibles in this sunny series about the adventures and misadventures of a precocious six-year-old, Bertie Pollock, and a host of other folks in contemporary Edinburgh. In the superlative fifth entry (after The World According to Bertie), Bertie's parents engage in a Wodehousian power struggle about how their young child should be raised, wondering whether his desire to become a scout is a good thing. The neatly interwoven story lines include the travails of a young, newly married couple and an artist who finds himself saddled with too many dogs. One character's scheme to recover a Spode tea cup that her neighbor has permanently appropriated is particularly evocative of P.G. Wodehouse, though Smith's characters are less broadly drawn and more multidimensional than, say, Jeeves and Wooster.