Monday, December 29, 2014

Catching Up with Alexander McCall Smith Books

Over the holidays, some people borrowed our television series on DVD to have viewing marathons. Instead of devoting myself night and day to episodes of Dexter, Gilmore Girls, Lost, Mad Men, or Downton Abbey, I borrowed six books or audiobooks written by Scotland's Alexander McCall Smith in December and had my own little read-a-thon.

If you like light serialized fiction and are not familiar with McCall Smith, you should be. He is the prolific author of several series, including No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Sunday Philosophy Club, 44 Scotland Street, Corduroy Mansions, and Portuguese Irregular Verbs series. Each is different. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and the Sunday Philosophy Club series can both be classified as cozy mysteries, but they are set in very different places, Botswana and Scotland. 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions are domestic comedies (similar to sit-coms) that focus on the residents of apartment buildings. The first is set in Edinburgh and the latter in London. Both were first published in daily installments in British newspapers, in much the way the novels of Charles Dickens were released in the 19th century. Portuguese Irregular Verbs is an academic farce featuring a very silly linguistics professor.

I read three No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books and now have only The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe to read to catch up with all the stories of Ma Precious Ramotswe. I listened to two 44 Scotland Street audiobooks and know everything that has happened with entertaining cast, including the painter Angus Lordie, the narcissist Bruce Anderson, and the beleaguered six-year-old Bertie Pollack. I also read A Conspiracy of Friends to finish what I think may stop as a trilogy. The last Corduroy Mansions title came out in 2011 and the author seems to have resolved its story lines. Life goes on, however, so McCall Smith could return to these characters in the future. The latest Portuguese Irregular Verbs title appeared about nine years after the original three. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Sunday Philosophy Club, and 44 Scotland Street come out annually. There are now fifteen books featuring Ma Ramotswe.

I have enjoyed December but am now bringing my McCall Smith marathon to a close. There are so many other books to read.

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