I skipped a couple of books in the series to read this one, which a friend loaned me. It didn't really matter; the characters are consistent and the plot moves slowly, so I wasn't confused. I enjoy these books; they're good comfort reads. That said, I do get tired of McCall Smith trumpeting his views via his characters. It's so clear that he can't stand a certain type of person when he makes a character with those traits pretty much unendurable. Most of his characters are either nearly perfect (Bertie, Angus, Domenica, Matthew) or awful enough that you wouldn't want them in your life (Bruce, Irene, Dr. Fairbairn, Olive, Tofu). There are a few in-betweens, but in general, McCall Smith knows how to hit you over the head repeatedly with his views on what makes a good person and a good life. And he's a master of mockery where he doesn't agree.