Friday, September 21, 2012

The Dog Who Came in From the Cold by Alexander McCall Smith

The Dog Who Came in From the Cold
by Alexander McCall Smith
* - 1 star
could not finish 

Oh how I wanted to like this book. A dog mystery, my favorite combination. Sadly, it was not meant to be.

I'll say right up front that if you want to get the attention of a dog / mystery lover, yes, put a dog on the cover and and write an intriguing dust jacket about how the dog's owner is lured into lending the little chap into service for MI6. Sounds great.

The book got off to a good enough start with a humorous writing style somewhat reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse. I learned lots of new words and some Latin right off the bat.

Stylistically, the story jumped from one plot line to the next, following a handful of unrelated adventures with the obvious promise of bringing things together in the end.

Halfway through, my frustration was mounting. The chapters with Freddie de la Hay (the dog on the cover) were few and far between. The unconnected stories were growing tiresome as they showed no sign of coming together. I began contriving different ways to bring things to a conclusion in my head. 

With only a hundred pages to go, my annoyance was growing. No sign of the stories merging and where, oh where was Freddie? I tried to bully my way through by skimming and looking for the pivotal twists in the narration, but with a mere 45 pages remaining I could no longer take it.

Book closed, didn't care what happened, no longer amused. In fact I feel like putting a warning in the front cover since this was on the "two weeks only and no renewals because it is very popular" shelf in the library. 

Something along the lines of "if you are looking for a dog mystery or a book with characters that one cares about, move along, nothing to see here."


  1. Like you I quickly lose interest in a book if the plot lines are missing and if it is too much work to read it. I am "one of those people" who will read a few paragraphs of a book in order to find out if I like the book. Most often I am correct on my first few minutes of reading! Great review! So sorry the librarians don't realize the book is just plain awful.

  2. I hate it when an author can't keep cohesion within a story. Because, really, if things aren't tied together, the story will never make sense. And having a dog on the cover, but not being prominent in the book? Well, that's kind of like finding out that a box of chocolates is 3/4 lima beans.

    1. What a great analogy! Both big disappointments. lol.

  3. I find AMS to be a puzzling author. His No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series is consistently wonderful, but I find his other series [two different ones set in Scotland; this appears to be yet another proposed series] to be terminally dull. There is a sense of joy and love in the African series that is just missing in the other books. The stories meander in the African series, too, but it fits the rhythm of the series and all the loose ends do get tied up in the end.