Alexander McCall Smith is the Scottish author of the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" mystery series, set in Botswana and featuring the...

Share story

Alexander McCall Smith is the Scottish author of the “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” mystery series, set in Botswana and featuring the delightful and “traditionally built” Precious Ramotswe. Smith seems to publish a book every other month, and this fan was beginning to worry about overexposure. Not to worry — his sense of gentle but pointed humor is once again afoot in “44 Scotland Street” (Anchor, $13.95).

“44 Scotland Street” was first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman newspaper (Smith freely admits he got the idea from Armistead Maupin, author of “Tales of the City,” first serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle). The short chapters make for perfect bedtime reading.

Characters include Pat, an innocent 20-something young woman who rents a room from Bruce, Scotland’s most narcissistic single male. There’s Bertie, a 5-year-old boy whose mother has scheduled him to the eyeballs with saxophone and Italian lessons, and Cyril, a beer-drinking Scottish mutt with an eye for the ladies. Real-life Scottish mystery author Ian Rankin puts in an appearance. Missing paintings, underground tunnels and secret meetings are involved, but Smith is mostly just having fun — a lot of fun, especially in reference to men in kilts who forget to wear their underpants.

Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times book editor

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.