cover image The Peppermint Tea Chronicles: A 44 Scotland Street Novel

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles: A 44 Scotland Street Novel

Alexander McCall Smith. Anchor, $15.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-9848-9781-7

In Smith’s meandering 13th 44 Scotland Street novel (after 2017’s A Time of Love and Tartan), the latest personal developments among the residents of the Edinburgh street will strike many as ho-hum: a child’s acquisition of a pet dog, a battle with a bureaucracy over disposing of a dead animal, and a coffee shop owner’s fears for her business’s future. Cat lovers will be taken aback by an anthropomorphized projection of the life of a dead feline, which, in order to make a pseudo-profound point about its finder’s worldview, suggests that the cat couldn’t have had an attachment to anything or anyone beyond its own life. Others may find odd one character’s attitude that only men can have a sentimental attachment to old clothing. Readers will struggle to care about the child and the coffee shop owner and how their personal stories play out. The author’s usual charm and humor aren’t enough to redeem a tale without a dominant or memorable story line. Fans of Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective series will be disappointed. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Dec.)