Cliffhanger endings, intrigue, romance, comedy & McCall Smith is incapable of being dull The Herald. Alexander McCall Smith s Scotland Street occupies a busy, bohemian corner of Edinburgh s New Town, where the old haute bourgeoisie finds itself having to rub shoulders with students, poets and portraitists. And number 44 has more than its fair share of the street s eccentricities and failures. When Pat on her second gap year and a source of some worry to her parents is accepted as a new tenant at number 44, she isn t quite sure how long she ll last. Her flatmate Bruce, a rugby-playing chartered surveyor, is impossibly narcissistic, carelessly philandering and infuriatingly handsome. Downstairs lives the gloriously pretentious Irene, whose precocious five-year old is in therapy after setting fire to his father s copy of the Guardian. And then there is the shrewd, intellectual Domenica MacDonald, mysteriously employed but a sharp-eyed observer of the houses activities in her spare time & Dry, funny, hugely entertaining, with its glittering cast of rogues, oddballs and innocents, McCall Smith s Scotland Street is proof that the author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency can be as wity, incisive and humane in observing his native Edinburgh as his adopted Botswana. The story revolves around the comings and goings at No. 44 Scotland Street, a fictitious building in a real street in Edinburgh. Immediately recognisable are the Edinburgh chartered surveyor, stalwart of the Conservative Association, who dreams of membership of Scotland s most exclusive 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 is that type of Edinburgh lady who sees herself as a citizen of a broader intellectual world. In McCall Smith s hands such characters retain charm and novelty, 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.