I'm a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Smith is a very fast and prolific author (writing multiple series and typically churning out a book per series per year) and I decided that it was time to plunge into another of his series.
I timed starting the first book in the series, 44 Scotland Street, with my trip to Edinburgh, where the story is set. Although I only spent a few hours in the city, it was enough to give me a small frame of reference. It's a gorgeous city and I hope that I will be able to return to it in the future.
As Smith mentions in the forward, his 44 Scotland Street series is reminiscent of Armistead Maupin's late 70's Tales of the City book series set in San Francisco. I discovered Maupin's series when I was in high school and quickly devoured all of the books over a Christmas holiday.
The comparison between the two series is a good one, as both include a plethora of quirky characters, a good mix of comedy vs serious content and both series make the city in which the story is set a primary character. The characters are all very much a product of their environment.
Just as in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Smith writes characters with their warts exposed, but in a gentle manner. He has a keen eye towards social interactions and knows how to translate his observations into his writings. He has an ability to create a multitude of characters from all sorts of backgrounds, but manages to bring forth the commonalities make all of the characters relatable. I always feel like a Smith book is similar to watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie, except less sappy. Smith writes stories that leave me feeling warm and fuzzy.
I'm excited to have read the first book in the 44 Scotland Street series and can't wait to dive into the next one!