This is happily the third installment in Alexander McCall Smith's charming online serial novel, Corduroy Mansions, that is published around September each year in the Telegraph. McCall Smith already had a very successful serial going in The Scotsman which centred around a handful of Edinburgh inhabitants and he has replicated the formula and set it in Pimlico, London - where, happily, anyone with Internet access can enjoy his daily chapters online.
I must admit that I was not as in love with the inhabitants of Corduroy Mansions as I was with those of 44 Scotland Street but that changed after reading the second book, The Dog Who Came in from the Cold. The more time you spend in their company, the more invested you become and I look forward to following their everyday - and in some cases extraordinary - lives as I would with old friends.
A Conspiracy of Friends reintroduces us to the Corduroy Mansions inhabitants and the people in their world: William French, Master of Wine (Failed) and his (formerly vegetarian and MI-6 agent) Pimlico terrier Freddie de la Hay; the only unpleasant Lib-Dem, Oedipus Snark; Barbara Ragg (of the Ragg Porter Publishing Agency - publishers of the Yeti's Biography); Berthea Snark (psychotherapist and reluctant mother of Oedipus) and her New-Age, Porsche-driving brother Terence Moongrove... to mention a few.
This book is filled with McCall Smith's light and sympathetic touch with dashes of humour and human observation. I found it engaging and fun, especially since a large dose of interesting new situations are foisted upon our group of friends. Perfect pick-me-up or calm-me-down reading.
Thank you to Birlinn/Polygon for kindly providing a review copy.