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The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel (Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries) Paperback – Large Print, September 23, 2008

85 customer reviews
Book 5 of 10 in the Isabel Dalhousie Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Smith's winning fifth novel to feature Edinburgh philosophical sleuth Isabel Dalhousie (after The Careful Use of Compliments), Dalhousie, who's recently assumed ownership of the obscure journal she's edited for many years, the Review of Applied Ethics, applies her deductive gifts to the case of a disgraced doctor. When a patient dies after taking a new antibiotic that Marcus Moncrieff deemed safe in clinical trials, the doctor's original report turns out to contain falsified data. Did Moncrieff skew the data to please the drug manufacturers? Moncrieff's wife turns to Isabel for help in lifting her husband out of his despondency. While the truth isn't straightforward, the motives of the guilty party prove to be both plausible and rational. The strengths of the book, as with Smith's better known No. 1 Ladies' Detective series, lie in its protagonist's determination to treat others without judgment—and in the author's revealing glimpses into the human soul. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This fifth installment in McCall Smith’s engaging series finds fortysomething Edinburgh moral philosopher Isabel Dalhousie investigating a doctor accused of scientific fraud. Did Marcus Moncrieff manipulate the data for a drug developed by the same company that funded his research? Isabel soon discovers that numbers are but part of the equation. It turns out that Dr. Moncrieff’s nephew, who is also his assistant, might have had good reason to exact revenge on his uncle. (At issue is the inheritance of a large farm on Scotland’s Black Isle.) Meanwhile, Isabel’s much younger boyfriend, Jamie, continues to dote on Isabel and their infant son, Charlie. (Alas, Jamie’s extraordinary good looks have Isabel forever worrying that he will lose interest in her.) There are other moral dilemmas, too. Isabel suspects that Eddie, the vulnerable young man who works at Isabel’s niece’s deli, lied about the reason he needs to borrow money. And Grace, Isabel’s very assertive housekeeper, has been telling local residents that adorable Charlie is her own. McCall Smith, who also pens the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street novels, has rendered a wise and very human heroine who grows more endearing with each entry. --Allison Block --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Large Print; Lrg edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739328123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739328125
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,795,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Comfort of Saturdays is the fifth book in the "Sunday Philosophy Club" series, which feature Isabel Dalhousie, philosopher and occasional amateur sleuth. I should say at the outset that I adore this series. Isabel is a very likeable character with lovely little observations about life and its everyday moral dilemmas. But having said that, this is the book that I have liked least in the series to date. It felt like Isabel spent too much time thinking and not enough doing, to the detriment of the book's momentum.

The story picks up a year after "The Careful Use of Compliments". Isabel and Jamie's son Charlie is now 15 months old. One thing that felt wrong to me as a mother was Isabel's relationship with Charlie, which seemed very functional. She spends so many hours fretting about Jamie - does Jamie love her? is he happy? is she at risk of losing him? how can someone so beautiful want to be with her? - while she seems far less interested in her own son.

The book opens well. Isabel is asked to investigate the circumstances behind a doctor's disgrace over a medical scandal. At the same time, Jamie has developed a friendship with a mysterious composer by the name of Nick Smart. However it felt like McCall Smith lost interest in both of these storylines, which get pushed to the back and never get fully resolved. Instead we spend a lot of time with Isabel and her insecurities. For the first time we see sides of Isabel which are not very appealing: for example she harbors a grudge over a loan that she has made and is quick to pass judgment on Eddie's girlfriend based on the way she looks.

Despite all of this, McCall Smith is still a lovely writer. I always feel a little lighter in spirit after reading his books. The Edinburgh settings are captivating and Isabel has an original and refreshing take on life.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Tintin Hekmi on October 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've always liked Isabel Dalhousie. In the beginning of the series, she is everything she is now except one: she wasn't insecure. Even getting together with Jamie, she took charge. It was great to read. I love strong women.

However, the last book and this one, she has degenerated into a really insecure person. And her infatuation with Jamie is a bit disturbing. Very little is written about his good heart, but every few pages we get a description of how good-looking he is, of how he is hers, and how proud she is of his good looks and flat belly, and on and on an on. It got really irritating.

And sadly, her son, seems to be incidental. There are no description of strong feelings for him. It's a tepid relationship at best. Jamie is the obsession. Again, disturbing.

That and the sad lack of plot. What the heck is with Nick? I'll still keep reading though. I love McCall Smith's novels.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Green on September 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series. From the very first book, The Sunday Philosophy Club, reading them is like entering a special world. His settings and characterizations are nearly flawless, and the human touch, the joys and sorrows of life, are handled beautifully. After reading this latest book, filled with bits of poetry and music, intelligent ideas and musings of the human heart, I felt that if I ever had to chose a few dozen books as favorites, this one and the four that preceded it would be among them.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon customer on October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Alexander McCall Smith is one of my favorite authors. This book, though, is a little heavy on the philosophical musings and a little light on plot. I have always liked the main character, Isabel, the editor of a publication titled "Review of Applied Ethics" because she is a cerebral person; because she raises and attempts to answer an assortment of ethical, historical, and philosophical questions; and because she is an independent sort. But there are so many "asides" here - so many quips and quotes and intellectual musings, that they become a distraction and disrupt the flow of the story.

As one of the reviewers said, McCall Smith's books are addictive. I haven't given up reading his books. Just not a big fan of this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Browning on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This one will keep you up all night turning pages, even if you are not already hooked on Isabel Dalhousie and company.

McCall's extended portrait of life in Edinburgh is both thought-provoking and emotionally delicious as we follow Isabel's ups and downs and find ourselves strangely comforted by the humanity and vulnerability of her life.

Will her beloved Jamie be enticed by an American composer to leave Edinburgh to further his career as a concert bassoonist? Did the doctor do it? Why does Grace claim Isabel's baby boy Charlie is her own son? Will Cat ever figure out why she chooses the wrong men? Do people, even nice Edinburgh people, actually go about telling lies every day?

Curl up with a cup of strong black tea with cream and plenty of sugar as you get to know Isabel a little better.

You won't regret it.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Catherwood on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a fabulous book for any kind of day, as are all McCall Smith's novels - and readers in the USA might want to know that you can read his new online novel at [...] and read a new chapter every day. How many authors have the extraordinary breadth of a McCall Smith - Botswana lady detectives, Edinburgh lady philosophers, hilariously funny stories of German academics and people in an Edinburgh house, and now a wonderful online novel of people living in a socially mixed part of London. Ten cheers for McCall Smith, the Charles Dickens of our time. Christopher Catherwood (author of A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MIDDLE EAST)
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