We read for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons frequently cited is that books offer an “escape.” How true that is, and books, of course, offer a variety of escapes. Thereâ€™s the thrill of adventure and romance, and the infinite worlds of science fiction. But thereâ€™s another escape too–an escape into a simpler, cozier world in which, if the truth is told, the lives of some fictional characters seem enviable. And this brings me to Alexander McCall Smithâ€™s 44 Scotland Street series.
The first time readers met this village lawman was in Bruno, Chief of Police. He was something of a French version of Andy Taylor of Mayberry: as a matter of course he didn’t carry a gun, he sometimes upheld the spirit of community well-being rather than enforce the letter of the law, and he dealt with the villagers with a natural but unadvertised psychology instead of simply compelling obedience. He was also single and had a history of discreetly dating a number of women. He was the only local police officer, having no Barney Fife at his side, but when crimes of greater significance than a parking ticket arose he had to collaborate with his immediate boss, the town mayor, and with wider French enforcement agencies, including the national police. He, unlike Sheriff Andy, had a bit of a repertoire in the cooking department and was especially famous in the tiny PĂ©rigord commune for whipping up heavenly truffle omelettes. Bruno, whose actual but never used name was BenoĂ®t, was deeply content to remain in Saint-Denis, although as a highly decorated former soldier who had traded in one uniform for another, his services would have been eagerly accepted by the Police Nationale in Paris itself.
Young Flavia Sabina de Luce, chemistry whiz, accomplished amateur detective, and sometime drama queen, is back! She says she trying to be a better person, but she still at least thinks rude retorts, forgets to come home for Mrs. Mullet’s strange meals, steals into houses and businesses to collect evidence, opens coffins and peers inside to confirm forensic theories, and gives as good as she gets to her older sisters.
If youâ€™re looking for a breezy, late-summer addition to your library, pick up a copy of Monica McInerneyâ€™s novel, GREETING FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. A combination of an easy to follow main storyline combined with compelling subplots and a likable main character make it a quintessential beach book.
The second installment of Joseph Caldwellâ€™s pig trilogy, THE PIG COMES TO DINNER, might be better titled The Pig Becomes Dinner, a suggestion that shouldnâ€™t spoil the ending. As those who have read the first book of the series know, these charming tales arenâ€™t really about the pig at all. Her ultimate fate lies beside the point, and her lesbian mischievousness (thatâ€™s right) serves only to inch the plot forward for an entertaining cast of quirky characters â€“ human characters.
Not a believer that change is entirely for the better in Botswana society, Mma Precious Ramotswe, the â€śtraditionally builtâ€ť owner of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency in Gaborone, has decided that cars are among the biggest agents of change, making people lazy. She has therefore decided to walk the two miles each way to her office, located beside the garage where her husband Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni operates a car repair service. She secretly admits, however, that the real reason she is walking is that her beloved little white van, now twenty-two years old, is making strange noises, and she fears that when Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni hears them that he will decide her little van can no longer be repaired.