I've read all the Scotland Street novels and marvel at how the imaginative stories keep coming. I very much enjoyed this next instalment of life among the Edinburgh New town folk whose lives are interwoven in this series. Like a good soap opera most of the characters have been in the series for years: Bertie, his over-bearing mother, Irene; his long-suffering father, Stuart; Big Lou in her coffee bar frequented by Mathew the new father of triplets born to Elspeth in the last book and newly married Angus Lourdie and his amazing dog. Obnoxious Bruce only makes a fleeting appearance, and Pat finds happiness elsewhere.
Bertie remains the central character forever anticipating being seven which he finally attains in this book. Will he remain seven for several more years? His mother, is a wonderful creation that enables the author to poke fun at extreme feminism, psychoanalysis and dietary restrictions. Irene gets involved in a hilarious train of events that will have to be resolved in the next book. I can't wait.
As someone who's lived and worked in Edinburgh these books give extra pleasure as so many familiar places, people, prejudices (against Glasgow), the independence referendum and local issues (the trams!) are spliced into the narrative.
Superficially, the stories are created to amuse but, as always, there's a undercurrent of philosophical conumdrums and issues of morality that makes one stop and think. Some will feel these books paint a anodyne picture of privileged lives and avoid some of the harsh realities of these uncertain times, but it's not a bad thing to read a book that leaves one feeling happy. Denise Mina gives the other side of Scotland: literally and metaphorically.