The Dog Who Came in from the Cold
Alexander McCall Smith
Pantheon, Jun 21 2011, $24.95
In Pimlico, London wine merchant William French is shocked when an old acquaintance Angelica Brockelbank, whom he has not seen in years, arrives at his home Corduroy Mansions. She shocks him further when she explains she no longer manages a bookstore, but instead works for MI6. Her colleague needs a recruit to spy on the Russian spy ring. However, they just want French to escort his terrier, Freddie de la Hay to and from the job.
Other residents of Corduroy Mansions are dealing with issues too. New Age gurus believe that the estate of Terence Moongrove is the cosmological center. Literary agent Barbara Ragg is pushing publication of her book Autobiography of a Yeti that she insists was told to her by the title character.
The latest Corduroy Mansions satire is a lighthearted romp that lampoons the memoir/biography book publishing, skewers the homeland security espionage agents, and mocks the New Age crowd who has been around long enough to become the Old New Age crowd. While doing this through the foibles of the Corduroy Mansions' residents, Alexander McCall Smith turns Freddie into the hero as he lampoons the personification of animals without using an anthropomorphist trait. Although not as profound as The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, 44 Scotland Street or the Isabel Dalhousie series, nonetheless Mr. Smith provides an engaging slice of life in London.