44 Scotland Street
One of McCall Smith's particular talents is his ability to portray archetypes without resorting to stereotype or cliche. Thus we immediately recognise the Edinburgh chartered surveyor, stalwart of the Conservative Association, who dreams of membership to Muirfield golf club. We have the pushy Stockbridge mother, and her prodigiously talented five-year-old son, who is making good progress with the saxophone and with his Italian. Then there is Domenica Macdonald who, rather like Miss Jean Brodie, is that type of Edinburgh lady who sees herself as a citizen of a broader intellectual world. simultaneously arousing both mirth and empathy. 44 Scotland Street is vintage McCall Smith, tackling issues of trust and honesty, snobbery and hypocrisy, love and loss, but all with great lightness of touch. Clever, elegant and funny, this is a novel that provides huge entertainment but which is underpinned by the moral dilemmas of everyday life and the characters' struggles to resolve them.