The 80th book I read for the challenge was the final Corduroy Mansions novel by Alexander McCall Smith, A Conspiracy of Friends. In this book we find William going to visit his life-long friends in the country. The man has been his friend since primary school and the man and his wife provided him with comfort when William’s wife died. He visits them twice a year. Imagine William’s surprise when Maggie, the wife, on a walk with William, expresses her love for him. It is awkward indeed. To make matters worse, Freddie de la Hay has disappeared.
Freddie has run down a rabbit hole and gotten stuck. He manages to dig himself out but come out in unfamiliar territory. A woman picks him up and takes him home. This woman has been unable to have children and they have lost several dogs due to old age. Her husband explains that they shouldn’t keep Freddie, that he is chipped and belongs to someone, so she agrees to take him to the vet to have his chip read. But in the car she rubs a magnet over the chip so it can’t be read. The husband, a graphic artist, uses Freddie in a dog food advertisement. Freddie has now become famous.
Caroline’s mother is trying to explain to her daughter how unsuitable James is for her but Caroline appears not to listen. Caroline’s mother and the mother of a young man named Ronald who needs housing in London suggest to Ronald that he seek housing with Caroline now that she has to replace Dee. Ronald makes quite an impression on Caroline and they make arrangements to have dinner. That means Caroline must cancel her dinner with James, and she tells him she is not feeling 100%. Unfortunately they see each other in the same restaurant. But Caroline is quite smitten with Ronald and he with her, exactly what the mothers were hoping.
Barbara and Hugh make confessions to one another and Barbara decides that she is really not in love with Hugh. Rupert has been conspiring to take over Barbara’s clients but Barbara is determined to get them back.
Berthea is still writing her book about her son Oedipus, particularly now that he has been named a junior minister. She is also still watching out for Terence, who has bought an interest in a vintage racing car.
This volume wraps up loose ends of the folks at Corduroy Mansions and we can imagine them living happy lives afterward. Eight down, 20 to go.