Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Conspiracy of Friends-Alexander McCall Smith

A Conspiracy of Friends

Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, Jun 12, 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307907233

In London, from her mew house just behind Corduroy Mansions, noted psychoanalyst Berthea Snark continues writing her hostile exposé biography “My Son Oedipus”; as she hates the “only unpleasant Liberal Democrat” Member of Parliament. She is encouraged by Oedipus’ former lover literary agent Barbara Ragg who loathes him too. At the same time, Berthea’s fiancé Hugh is unhappy with her after they share some dark secrets; and Barbara’s business partner Rupert Porter is irate with her and seeking revenge. Meanwhile Oedipus is named the Undersecretary for some department that he cannot recall its name.

Wine merchant William French panics when his significant other Freddie de la Hay the M16 Terrier (see The Dog Who Came in from the Cold) vanishes. At the same time William’s son Eddie, funded by wealthy girlfriend Merle of the Windward Islands, hires designer Cosmo Bartonette to create a Hemingway-themed restaurant. William’s neighbor Caroline Jarvis muses over a passionate relationship rather than just a friendship with her BFF James. Finally, Berthea's brother Terence Moongrove decides to own a racecar that he plans to drive in competition.

The ensemble cast starring in the latest Corduroy Mansions contemporary tale makes for an entertaining look at desires and needs; not all positive and friendly. The action is limited as much of the storyline focuses on inner turmoil and longings. Readers who enjoy a low keyed philosophical character study will appreciate the cleverly musings of A Conspiracy of Friends.

Harriet Klausner

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