Top critical review
Not as good as the usual Dalhousie books
on January 9, 2011
I've been a fan of this series from the start (as well as of the 44 Scotland Street books).
The interesting and insightful characters, the many references to places in Edinburgh and environs, the little glimpses into Scottish culture and life and overall "gentle" tone make these books so appealing.
However I found something about this book rather gloomy and depressing, but I can't quite articulate what or why. It just didn't give me the same enjoyment reading the previous books in the series had done. Isabel doesn't quite seem herself and at times I found her obsessing over her relationship with Jamie rather tiresome. I wondered whether Mr. McCall Smith was depressed when he wrote this one, or if perhaps he has grown tired of the series.
I also felt the central sleuthing aspect of the story was underdeveloped and rather resolved all too quickly in the last few pages, as well as being overshadowed by the storyline of the central characters' personal lives. In previous books, the balance between "the mystery" and Isabel's own life was just right - you wanted to find out what was going to happen in both situations. Here, the story of the three headmaster candidates almost seems like an afterthougt. Several other small threads seem to be either resolved too quickly or glossed over and left unresolved.
If this had been the first book from the series I had ever read, I don't think I would give the others a try. Hopefully this is just a one-off blip in an otherwise enjoyable and intelligent series.