In times of trouble, there’s nothing more comforting than a yummy read, and Alexander McCall Smith’s The Dog Who Came In From the Cold is just that (though I have to say typing all those capitals is pretty exhausting! From now on I’m calling it simply Dog).
I’m not sure how many installments there will be, but I’m now on my third and fourth chunks, which I’m devouring together rather in the same compulsive way that I see off packet after packet of chocolate peanuts. It’s a gentle, moreish, meandering tale, involving quite a cast of characters. As is usual in sagas like this, I pick my favourites near the start and then urge them on to the finishing line, usually hoping, ridiculous romantic that I am, that they will get married in the final furlong. As my favour has fallen, so far, on Freddie de la Hay, the little Pimlico terrier of the title, and Caroline, who seems rather unlucky in love (ahem), I have no real hopes of a denouement at the altar – but I suppose you never know these days.
McCall Smith’s style, as the world well knows, is aimiably quirky and, as the spy storyline has developed, I have rather impishly wished for things to take a gritty turn, a la Len Deighton or even Patricia Cornwell. Poor little Freddie tortured? Caroline being held hostage? Obviously I have a sick mind, but sometimes you do yearn for the tiniest droplet of acid in amongst the honeyed, effortless prose.
Oh, but it is scrummy stuff. If you’ll forgive me, I’ll dive back in – I have a little bit more to read before my next dose is sent to me by those lovely folk at the Telegraph. Toodle pip!