Monday, September 3, 2007

The Careful Use of Compliments: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel… by Alexander Mccall Smith

This is the latest in the Sunday Philosophy Club series by Alexander McCall Smith. The author is best known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, which is good. But, if you haven't yet read anything else by this author, you are in for a treat.

I look forward to each new book in this series with anticipation. It is classified as a mystery, but the mystery is really secondary. What stands out is the language, setting, and the main character, Isabel Dalhousie. In fact, I find myself wanting to read this book aloud because the author's descriptions are so vivid. I have never been to Scotland, but I will go some day, and these books just whet my appetite.

Isabel Dalhousie is a moral philosopher and the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. McCall Smith has a wonderfully dry wit that comes through in all his novels. Isabel is a very well-rounded character, and the reader gets to know her intimately through her interior monologues. She thinks about even the smallest things that happen during her day. She debates with herself the morality of inaction versus taking specific action.

But, where some characters may come across as judgmental or "preachy", Isabel does neither. She is very human and readily admits her faults. At heart, she is an optimist. This book and all the rest of the books in this series are a pleasure to read.