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on 29 April 2010
Another fabulous offering from the ultimate master of story-telling. Definitely on a par with the fantastic 44 Scotland Street series. This latest book in the Corduroy Mansions series is a real treat, I'd read all the chapters in the Telegraph but it is so nice to have them all in one lovely volume. Highly recommend to Alexander McCall Smith fans old and new!
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The Dog Who Came In From The Cold is the second in the Corduroy Mansions series by Alexander McCall Smith. Once again we join the people of Corduroy Mansions and their friends. An acquaintance who works for MI6 visits wine merchant William French, and his Pimlico terrier, Freddie de la Hay, is drafted to serve his country. Berthea Snark's brother Terence Moongrove finds his new Porsche makes him feel amorous and is excited about water memory and morphic resonance. Caroline tries to decide whether she wants a relationship with comfortable James or exciting Tim. Barbara Ragg goes on vacation to Scotland with her new fiancé Hugh Macpherson and meets her future in-laws. Berthea Snark has to take action against a pair of charlatans out to fleece Terence. Dee lies and steals and tries to market her goods in a new way. Barbara's partner at the Ragg Porter Literary Agency betrays a trust and is caught out. Aussie flatmate Jo gives Caroline some very sound advice. There is a delightful piece on homeopathy and risotto gets a few mentions. William's feckless son Eddie berates him, with justification. And William effects a dramatic rescue. And throughout the happenings, we are treated to McCall Smith's gentle philosophy and wry humour. I found myself constantly smiling, chuckling, giggling and many occasions, laughing out loud. McCall Smith manages to examine issues in everyday life and still leave the reader feeling good and wanting more. I loved this book.
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on 22 June 2012
I have only started this second book in the new series, but am already wondering about a couple things:
Firstly, I don't like inconsistencies. The first thing I read in this book is that Eddie, son of William, is 28 years old. So I think: OK, this story is set 4 years after the last one. But soon after I find out that only 6 months have passed since Eddie moved out from his father's flat.
However, in the first book, Eddie is only 24. And now, 6 months later, he is 28?

Also, whatever happened to that luncheon that Barbara and Jenny were supposed to have to discuss, I presume, how to get even with the nasty Oedipus Snark. Nothing ever came of that. And now it's 6 months later, and unless they have had their lunch, and we were simply not informed, it didn't happen after all, and we weren't informed of that either - unless we will be informed about it at a later state.

Then there is James who, in the first book, had been offered a job with a gallery, and now he has just finished an unpaid 6-week internship with an auction house and is waiting to see whether they will hire him?
And what happened to the "girlfriend" he seemed to have found towards the end of the book? No mention of her in this one. No, it's Caroline after all who he is together with.

Also, we have been told in the first book that there is a basement flat in the house, but not whether someone lives there or not. And if not, why not?

And lastly, we never heard the end of Hugh's story (Barbara's fiancée), about what happened in South America and what happened when he was with the family of one of his pupils and, presumably been held by them for the 3 months.

Inconsistencies and loose ends - just hate them.
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on 27 October 2011
The usual well written and engaging McCall Smith character sketches are all here, but in a way that's partly the problem insofar as this time there are simply too many of them for my taste. The action - if one can call it that - is more a series of well crafted vignettes describing the effects and outcomes of the various forms of middle class angst from which so many of McCall Smith's characters so frequently suffer. It's not that I mind this at all as a story vehicle - it's the stamping ground of many of the finest writers for obvious reasons - but with this book I found there were simply too many threads running through and the alleged principal storyline was somewhat buried under a mass of parallel plots. Ultimately, I quite enjoyed the book from about page 150 onwards when our canine hero finally began to take centre stage, but alas it was all too briefly. I would have preferred far more Freddie de la Hay (Dog) - whose cleverly constructed character surely offered a writer of McCall Smith's talents considerably more room for development - and far, far fewer humans. Corduroy Mansions is not one of McCall Smith's otherwise excellent series I will be returning to - unless Freddie de la Hay is given far more to think and bark about that is.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 May 2010
I have enjoyed McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series of books that were the precursor to the Corduroy Mansions (Corduroy Mansions 1) series of which The Dog Who Came in from the Cold is a sequel. Both series bear the stamp of being published in short chapters day by day in a newspaper, respectively The Scotsman and The Daily Telegraph. Maybe because I grew up in and know Edinburgh very well I prefer the Scotland Street books as they have a much greater sense of place: the city is part of the narrative, whereas, Pimlico doesn't really make an impression and its geography doesn't play an important part in the Corduroy Mansion's books. The author, McCall Smith, has lived and worked in Edinburgh for many years and I think it shows in the creation of a realistic background to his characters as they move around the city. I found the first book in the Corduroy Mansions series easier to get into than this second one: The Dog Who Came in from the Cold has too many characters and I kept forgetting who was whom. It did help to have read the two books in chronological order as most of the characters of the first book appear in the second, but with many more in the latter to add to my confusion. I would also say that this second book is more surreal than the first with the dog (Freddie de la Hay) of the title being recruited to work undercover for MI6 (hence the allusion in the title to the John Le Carre book, The Spy who came in from the Cold) to suss out the criminal activities of a Russian gang operating in London.

Some of the familiar characters are there from the first book, for example, William French, failed Master of Wine, father of layabout, Eddie, and owner of Freddie his dog been suborned for MI6 by agent Tilly Curtain; Barbara Ragg, publisher, and her new-found love, Hugo Macpherson; she having broken up her relationship with the odious MP Oedipus Snark. Barbera is still hoping to get the manuscript of the autobiography of a yeti, collected by the writer Errol Greatorex. I think you get the picture from the names that this is a very tongue-in-cheek book with some over-the-top characters and plot lines. More so than his other books I've read which are more realistic in depicting life, albeit a comfortable, middle-class, professional life devoid of harsh realities and none the worse for that.

McCall Smith is a skillful writer who carries one along in his up-market soap operas into which he cleverly injects though-provoking philosophical ideas and a commentary on modern life.
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on 9 April 2012
I had been feeling somewhat disloyal to Precious Ramotswe and the other characters in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series as they had been replaced as my McCall Smith favourites by Bertie in the 44 Scotland Street series. Now I have a further dilemma as the "hero" of The Dog Who Came in from the Cold is Freddie de la Hay a Pimlico Terrier who has all the innocent charm of Bertie. Both get into hysterical situations without being aware of it. This book is the second in the Corduroy Mansions series. The first book was enjoyable but did not seem to be addictive. The second left me wondering when I could get my hands on the next in the series. As mentioned in other reviews there can be a lot of chuckling out loud involved so bear that in mind before reading in public.
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"Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?" -- Luke 14:34 (NKJV)

I was disappointed in this book. Although it contains almost all the same characters as Corduroy Mansions, the brilliance of that book is mostly missing in this gentle series of stories about finding love and overcoming ill-founded feelings. Two of the plot lines sound funny on the surface: the Pimlico terrier Freddie de la Hay being recruited by MI6 and Rupert Porter trying to expose the yeti as a fraud. But there's much less humor than the premises suggest.

What the book offers plenty of are conversations and reflections on finding and developing love. If this were the first book in a series, that would be fine. But it's not what those who loved Corduroy Mansions are probably expecting. That was certainly true for me. A little Oedipus Snark would have helped.
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on 17 November 2010
This seems to be a haggis of a book, with off cuts and trimmings apparently discarded from elsewhere and somehow shoehorned into one novel. Essentially it consists of four stories which are intermingled for no obvious reason and with very little connection. Two of the stories are far fetched in the extreme, the other two not really worth recording. McCall Smith tries too hard to be clever and in my view misses the point that lightweight books are meant to be lightweight! Where it works well is when the account is told from the point of view of the eponymous dog. I think that this novel is intended to be funny, but I didn't find it so. Alexander McCall Smith can obviously write extremely well as witnessed by the run away success of his Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series. Although from the same pen, The Dog who came in from the cold is not in the same league.
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on 9 June 2010
These stories, continuing the Corduroy Mansions collection of stories, are rollicking fun as Prof. McCall Smith continues to spin the threads of their complicated lives. His skills at developing his characters into very realistic people draw the reader into this collection. Such skill is not often seen and this author continues to maintain entrancing characters in a variety of settings in his very diverse writings. For an entertaining and relaxing escape into other people's lives and realities, I highly recommend this book.
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on 14 June 2010
I love this author's view of everyday occurrences. By the time I have finished reading one of his books, I find myself observing what I had previously regarded as 'normal life' much more closely. If you find yourself wanting a lifestyle change, look no further than Alexander McCall Smith's books and anticipate many hours of enjoyable reading about Corduroy Mansions in Pimlico and the lives of its characters.
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