I’m a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s books; though I love his Botswana novels, I must admit to preferring his novels that are set in Edinburgh, especially his Isabel Dalhousie stories. This one is the fourth in the “Sunday Philosophy Club” series. Isabel Dalhousie is the editor of a small-press applied ethics journal, who solves mysteries on the side.
Isabel is well-off, single and has a calm personality. I thought that she was at least in her mid 50?s, but in this novel, she is said to be in her early 40?s. She is now trying to cope with having become the mother of a baby son, whose father is Jamie, her niece’s ex-boyfriend. Isabel wrestled with her growing attraction to Jamie over the past two novels, after Cat dumped him. Jamie nursed an unrequited crush on Cat and hoped that Isabel would help him to return to Cat’s affections. But, although 15 years her junior, he eventually fell in love with Isabel.
Isabel’s life is changing, as she is sacked from her postition as editor of the applied ethics journal. Then Cat takes up with the man who is to replace Isabel, while holding a grudge against her aunt for “snatching” Jamie away. It’s all a dreadful muddle and Isabel is not fond of messy emotions. At the same time, she is puzzled as to how a supposedly dead artist could be still turning out paintings of the Isle of Jura.
Some feel that the Isabel Dalhousie books lack the charm of the Precious Ramotswe novels. To be sure, there is a lot of Isabel’s philisophical musings to wade through, but I find her throught processes to be fascinating. Isabel is calm and cool-headed and would seem, on the face of it, to lack Precious’ passion. But she is no less intrigued by human behaviour and driven to sort out the muddle that other people seem to make of their lives. I find her to be every bit as charming and am hoping that one day. Mr McCall Smith will send Isabel to Botswana!