Rated Reads

The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs

by Alexander McCall Smith

Rated: None

The author likely most well known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels has written a number of other books. The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs is a novel, really more a set of shorter, interconnected stories, among those starring — and I do mean starring — Professor Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld. Von Igelfeld is a specialist on the Portuguese language and the distinguished and supposedly famous author of the equally distinguished and supposedly famous Portuguese Irregular Verbs, a fact that he often takes pains to point out.

Professor von Igelfeld manages to get into a lot of sticky situations, in part thanks to his sense of self-importance and pomposity. He regularly has difficulties with fellow professor Dr. Unterholzer — he is certain that his colleague is well beneath him in capabilities and importance, and his need to make sure it stays that way causes some of his problems. In this novel, von Igelfeld decides that he must finally go to the United States in a professional capacity after turning down numerous opportunities to do so because Unterholzer has now been given the opportunity himself — and he simply cannot let him do something he has not done himself. Von Igelfeld makes arrangements to get himself invited again and graciously accepts an invitation from the University of Arkansas. Unfortunately, the school thought they were inviting a professor von Igelfold, who specialized in veterinary medicine, and now von Igelfeld must pretend to be the world’s leading authority on sausage dogs.

The way in which he carries on the impersonation is comical, as is the situations to which it leads. Without saying too much to take away the surprise of some of the most hilarious moments of the book, let’s just say that the implications of this trip to far-off Arkansas have surprisingly immediate ramifications.

The esteemed professor also manages through the course of the novel to find himself transporting a Catholic relic in Rome and becoming the focus of attention of a few hundred single women on a cruise ship. As obtuse as the professor is — and he really, truly is — he can get into some hugely entertaining mix-ups.

McCall Smith entertains effectively with a silly, frothy little romp of a book.

Rated: None. No language or other offensive content.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs
  • by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Rated: None
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: