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The private life of spies ; and the exquisite art of getting even : stories  Cover Image Book Book

The private life of spies ; and the exquisite art of getting even : stories / Alexander McCall Smith.

McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948- (Author). McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948- Private life of shadows. (Added Author). McCall Smith, Alexander, 1948- Exquisite art of getting even. (Added Author).


In this dual collection of short stories, Alexander McCall Smith brings his trademark humor and warmth to inventive tales of spying and vengeance. In one story, a spy dropped deep into enemy territory manages to disguise himself -- quite convincingly -- as a nun. In another, an invitation to join the Vatican Secret Service sends a prospective operative down a rabbit hole of controversy and confusion. A third story finds an author, on the brink of public ruin, seeing the error of his ways after an act of kindness saves the day. A keen observer of humanity imbued with a sparkling imagination, Alexander McCall Smith illustrates throughout that transparency is paramount and forgiveness is restorative. With surprising insight and a healthy helping of humor, these stories remind us that, in the end, the high road is often the better one for all involved.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780593700693
  • ISBN: 0593700694
  • Physical Description: 289 pages ; 25 cm
  • Edition: First American edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, [2023]

Content descriptions

General Note:
Originally published in hardcover in two volumes in Great Britain as The Exquisite Art of Getting Even by Polygon Books, an imprint of Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh, in 2022, and The Private Life of Shadows by Abacus, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, London, in 2023.
Formatted Contents Note:
Private life of spies -- Nuns and spies (England, 1943) -- Syphax and Omar (Algiers, 1924) -- Ferry timetable (Scotland, 1884) -- Donald and Yevgeni (Shanghai, Moscow, Washington, 1934-1947) -- Filioque (Rome, 2022) -- Exquisite art of getting even -- Sweet vengeance: an introduction -- Vengeance is mine -- A Melbourne story: an introduction -- Principles of soap -- Cavalleria Rusticana: an introduction -- Monty, Tiger, Rose, etc. -- Dignity & decency: an introduction -- One, two, three.
Subject: Intelligence officers > Fiction.
Revenge > Fiction.
Secret service > Fiction.
Genre: Short stories.
Humorous fiction.
Spy fiction.
Short stories.

Available copies

  • 16 of 30 copies available at Missouri Evergreen. (Show)
  • 0 of 1 copy available at North Kansas City.


  • 5 current holds with 30 total copies.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
North Kansas City Public Library FICTION MCCALL SMITH 2023 (Text) 0001012512853 Fiction New Checked out 06/22/2023

Additional Resources