By Karen Valby
Updated June 30, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

The creator of the successful No. 1 Ladies’ ? Detective Agency series returns with a new cast of characters to love. Corduroy Mansions plops readers down on a worn mansion block in London’s bustling Pimlico neighborhood, floating easily between the dramas and comedies of its eccentric, endearing residents. (William, a wine merchant who yearns for his grown son to move out, is a particular delight.) Alexander McCall Smith is a writer of such fond, heartfelt geniality that at the end of this cozy read, fans will be grateful that the series has just begun. A?

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