A Conspiracy Of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith

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A Conspiracy Of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Perfect for Alexander McCall Smith, A Conspiracy Of Friends is another delightful outing with our favourite characters from Corduroy Mansions.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Polygon
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846971822

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So, here we are again back with our friends in Corduroy Mansions in this, their third book. I found A Conspiracy Of Friends a little slow to start with, and I worried that perhaps I had tired of the characters, but a few chapters later the pace picked up and once again I was thoroughly entertained by the quirky characters, interesting thoughts and ideas.

For those new to the series, it is written in an episodic format for The Daily Telegraph, so each chapter is very short and it makes a lovely book to read when you don't have much time each day, and allows you to easily dip in and out. I also like this style as the plots slip easily between the different characters, so when there are characters you're not so keen on you can quickly read through their chapter to get to the ones you really love.

Poor Freddie de la Hay has a bit of a close shave, and William is faced with a very tricky friendship situation. William and Freddie are my favourite characters in the story, and I personally would have liked a little more from them, but there did feel like a nice balance of action from a variety of different characters. I enjoyed the introduction of a few new characters; they were just there to facilitate the story but even within just a few of pages I felt I already knew them well and would quite happily have read a lot more about them. I think it takes great skill to write such interesting secondary characters so fluidly. McCall Smith just seems to have an endless supply of interesting people locked up in his head and trickling out into his stories.

I also really liked that most of the action takes place away from Corduroy Mansions. The focus isn't really on where they live, but on who they are. It adds variety to have them all visiting different places and encountering different people. Most of the previous favourites are here. Oedipus Snark remains as unlikeable as ever (though perhaps he is no longer the only nasty Lib Dem MP in recent history!) Anyway, he continues to be unspeakably rude, or at least he does for the moment... His Uncle Terence Moongrove lurches once more into a suspicious financial situation, monitored anxiously by his mother, Berthea, whilst we see Barbara Ragg wrestling with her identity and challenged by the revelations of her fiance's past. Caroline's previous flatmates don't take part in this story and instead she has a new flatmate arrive in her life. And amongst the believable and commonplace events there are, of course, the ridiculous and absurd such as a reappearance of the English-speaking Yeti with whom Barbara Ragg has a literary deal!

As a massive fan of Alexander McCall Smith, this book didn't disappoint me. The odd-bod characters have grown on me and I very quickly and easily slipped back into their lives whilst reading the book, wondering what will become of them all and pondering the various moral dilemmas they find themselves facing. I have discovered that Alexander McCall Smith is a little bit like Marmite: you either love him or hate him. For those who've tried in the past and been disappointed then this is nothing new and you should probably steer clear, but for those who enjoy his gentle take on the world, his thoughtful ponderings and funny characters then this is another very pleasurable read.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

This is the third book in the series. Here's where to start from the beginning: Corduroy Mansions, then The Dog Who Came in from the Cold.

Buy A Conspiracy Of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Conspiracy Of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk


Buy A Conspiracy Of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Conspiracy Of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.com.

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