The 44 Scotland Street novels were written in serialized installments in The Scotsman, one of Edinburgh's daily newspapers. Perhaps because of that, I found them compulsively readable. Each short chapter ended just where I didn't want it to, and so I had to keep reading.
Smith is a generous writer. Even the most narcissistic, unpleasant character has his chance to change, and the unbearably dull are redeemed by their kindnesses. Smith really feels that there's hope for all of us. Besides that, he is well-read, but wears his education lightly, and doesn't rub our noses in it. He's also very polite, and I feel that's the right way to put it. These novels are polite. You feel you're in good hands - you know this is going to be a light, comic novel and certainly things happen, but no great tragedies or harrowing dramas. In The World According to Bertie, one of the characters reflects that "for most of us, nothing very much happens." And if that's true, Smith knows how much there can be to "nothing very much."