Friday, September 23, 2011

The Dog Who Came in from the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith

In London in a once-stately building called Corduroy Mansions, where the residents of various flats pass each in the lobby and occasionally share cheese and a glass of wine, there lives a Pimlico terrier named Freddie de la Hay. While on most days, the people go their separate ways selling wine, publishing books, attending art appraising classes, marketing herbal medicines, and psychoanalyzing clients, the trusting dog waits for William to come home, take for him a walk, and give him a decent meal. Freddie hasn't always gotten food that he enjoyed. A previous owners tried to make him a vegetarian, but William is kind, as well as a bit sad and lonely. For Freddie life is good until MI6 arrives to ask William to volunteer Freddie to serve his country as The Dog Who Came in from the Cold.

The Dog Who Came in from the Cold is the second of Alexander McCall Smith's serialized novels in the Corduroy Mansion series. In 78 short chapters, McCall Smith continues the stories of the residents of Corduroy Mansions, including psychiatrist Berthea who is writing a very critical biography of her own son Oedipus (a member of Parliament), book publisher Barbara who is shepherding Autobiography of a Yeti (supposedly nonfiction), and herbalist Dee who wants to market a sudoku remedy. They come and go unaware of the incredible dramas unfolding one floor up or across the hall. They certainly do not know how Freddie is working to protect Great Britain's security and prosperity. Lucky readers get to observe it all. It's great fun.

Readers who enjoy McCall Smith's Corduroy Mansion series will also want to try his 44 Scotland Street series, which features an unusual cast of characters set in beautiful Edinburgh.

McCall Smith, Alexander. The Dog Who Came in from the Cold. Pantheon Books, 2010. ISBN 9780307379733.

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