From Publishers Weekly
Murder and moral obligation mingle in this whimsical new series from the author of the smash hit The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
. McCall Smith's new heroine is Scottish-American philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, a single woman of independent means who edits the esteemed Review of Applied Ethics
and presides over the titular club. When Isabel witnesses fund manager Mark Fraser fall from a balcony after a performance at an Edinburgh concert hall, she feels obliged to investigate the gentleman's demise. "I was the last person that young man saw," Dalhousie tells her beloved niece, Cat. "The last person. And don't you think that the last person you see on this earth owes you something?" Given her affinity for applied ethics, questions of conscience are a daily concern for Isabel, and the more she thinks about Fraser's fall, the less accidental it seems. Among those who might have pushed him: his shifty roommate, his colleague's scheming spouse and a disgruntled broker with a craving for cash. Fans of Botswanan heroine Precious Ramotswe are sure to embrace Scotsman McCall Smith's plucky new protagonist, who leads a cast of delightfully quirky characters that includes Toby, a dapper bachelor with a dubious understanding of fidelity, and Grace, Dalhousie's morally upright housekeeper, who sizes up society's reprobates in two syllables or less. Scotland's climate may be misty and cool, but McCall Smith's charming prose warms every page of this winning series debut.
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The Dalhousie series is sure to be a second hit franchise, notes The New York Times
. That may be, but its currently suffering inevitable comparisons with the popular No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Sunday Club
rambles along just as slowly and develops its sense of time and place just as whimsically. Still, somethingmaybe the charm?is missing. This time, McCall Smith, a professor of medical law, examines both a mysterious death and moral responsibility. Isabels ethical musings may bore some of us shallow folk, though McCall Smiths psychological insight fascinates. And, while critics liked
Isabel, they didnt heap on the effusive praise theyve reserved for the charming Precious (see The Full Cupboard of Life
, **** July/Aug 2004). So, sit back, take a deep breath, and wait for the second installment
whats the rush?
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.