Once again, I've read two new novels by Alexander McCall Smith in quick succession -- the man is a writing machine. I have read each book he's written so far (though I'm a bit stalled in his last standalone, The Forever Girl, perhaps I'll get back to it eventually). I do like his series fiction, and the last while has brought two new installments in two series.
First up, Sunshine on Scotland Street. Which, obviously from the title, is in the Scotland Street series. The best thing about this series is generally agreed to be Bertie, the eternal 6 year old. He's a lovely character. This volume reintroduces us to Bertie's travails, but also follows Angus Lordie & Domenica as they marry; Matthew & Elspeth and their triplets; Big Lou and her coffeeshop; and the delightfully narcissistic Bruce as he meets his double and trouble ensues...
It's a fun read with the same kind of occurrences and ponderings as the previous 7 books in the series. If you're looking for a brief, light read set in Edinburgh, this is definitely it. Of course, it's probably best if you start at the beginning, though, and read your way up to this 8th volume. While McCall Smith is gentle and charming, he also pokes fun of many things I value -- not sure why this doesn't bother me much, but somehow he gets away with it...probably because it is not mean-spirited, and he laughs at himself too.
Next, here is one I just zipped through, but won't be out until the end of the month (at least here in Canada). The latest Botswana novel, The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe, is another comfortable visit with Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi. I admit I have a soft spot for the prickly Mma Makutsi, and in this novel she is once again trying to set up her own business, even though she's just been promoted to co-director of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Previously, Mma Makutsi operated the Kalahari Typing School for Men, which, considering her 97% at secretarial college, made some sense. This time, however, she's gotten it into her head that she's going to run a chic cafe. How and in what time I'm not sure, seeing as she already works in the Detective Agency full time and has a baby at home...but off she goes, and of course, things do not turn out as planned. But the power of friendship prevails, and with unexpected help from Mma Potokwane of the Orphanage the cafe is redeemed. Besides all this personal to-ing and fro-ing, Mma Ramotswe is also investigating a very strange case of amnesia and refugee applications...it's more serious than it first appears, and Mma Ramotswe, in her Solomon-like way, comes to an acceptable decision about what to do.
Both of these books closely follow the previous ones in their respective series; McCall Smith is not trying to do anything new, he's continuing on with the style and content that has made him so popular and so beloved. If you are a fan of either series, you will enjoy reacquainting yourself with the familiar characters. There's nothing startling about either one, but they make for a good few hours with your feet up, and with, of course, a cup of tea alongside. And the best thing? Already 97% of readers like this book on Goodreads! ;)