TRAINS AND LOVERS. By Alexander McCall Smith. Pantheon Books. 240 pages. $22.

In Alexander McCall Smith’s “Trains and Lovers,” a group of four strangers are placed together by chance on a train journey from Edinburgh to London. Three men and one woman, seated opposite each other, reveal “how love touched their lives,” passing the time by sharing stories of their respective train travel experiences.

Smith, best known for his “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” series, writes prose that is sure and engaging, drawing his characters so well that we feel we know Kay, Andrew, David and Hugh by the end of their trip.

McCall lets his characters’ stories unfold at leisure, and we become caught up in them while eagerly awaiting the outcomes. “Trains and Lovers” is a delight, worth a place on your reading list.

Reviewer Frances Monaco is a writer in Charleston.