Kalimac Crafts (and assorted other bits and bobs)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Book Review - The Sunday Philosophy Club

The Sunday Philosophy Club: An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith. 2004

Sigh. Sigh. Okay.

You have to understand, I love McCall Smith. I adore the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I want to read everything he's ever written (50+ books apparently). I want to stalk him when I get to Edinburgh (okay, not really, but maybe I'll sit in on one of his classes). I adore his literary voice, his depiction of Scotland. I will probably blow an enormous amount of money on his books soon, because I adore this man and his writing.

The first time I read this, I loved it. The second time...I didn't. The protagonist, a middle-aged, wealthy editor of a philosophy journal is sort of a more bearable Mary Worth. The mystery part of the book is wonderful, just the right twists and turns, and of course McCall Smith gives us plenty of lovely characters.

Unfortunately, Ms. Dalhousie isn't one of them.

She's meddlesome - forgiveable, as it's a necessary characteristic - but her childishness, especially concerning her beloved neice's ex-beau, who she's half in love with herself, drives me up a wall. A minor point to the story, but it kept coming up over and over again, annoying me. I suppose, technically, this is a good thing - Isabel is well-rounded, with her faults and her gifts, and she's a bit of a dotty old lady. Unfortunately, she's not terribly charming in her dottyness.

Despite that, I'll probably get the second mystery, now out, as, if nothing else, it's a wonderful snapshot of upperclass Edinburgh life and social scene. McCall Smith writes a good mystery; this one concerns a man who fell to his death in Usher Hall, insider trading, and an impressive number of red herrings.

I still don't like Isabel, though.


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