Basically, this is 44 Scotland Street set in London. The characters are ostensibly different people, but you could imagine any of them in the other series of novels (this is the first of a series).
Which isn't to say this is a bad book, but it does feel a little bit of a rip-off. The format is the same (smallish chapters which were published at daily intervals in a newspaper); the writing style is the same (lots of introspection and free indirect speech by the characters); even the plot-lines are similar (for much of the book, a question-mark hangs over the authenticity of a work of art which eventually gets destroyed). And there's a dog in it.
I did enjoy listening to it, but either I've got a bit too used to this style, or he's running out of ideas. Unlike 44 there wasn't anything which made me stop and think, made me want to underline and make a note of it. As I've previously said, I think he should go for quality rather than quantity and do a few really good books rather than churning out tons of books which are good, but not great.
One thing I did notice was that Andrew Sachs, the reader, mispronounced "Porsche" every time he said it (leaving off the trailing schwa - aha! so those linguistics lessons were worth it) and I caught myself thinking, when I heard this, "funny, I wouldn't expect Alexander McCall Smith to make a mistake like that".
In fact, at the time of writing, I'm halfway through the second Corduroy Mansions novel, also read by Andrew Sachs, and in that one he gets the pronunciation right, so someone must have pointed it out to him.
I don't want to make it sound like a bad book - it was good, and better than some of the Scotland Street ones, but it was a bit "more of the same".
Completed : 11-Feb-2010 (audiobook)