At the Edinburgh dinner party, guests strain to listen as the conversation turns to the recent forced resignation of a prominent medical research director. Isabel Dalhousie becomes interested when she overhears a friend of the professor insist that his former colleague could not be involved with the pharmaceutical scandal that had led to his dismissal. Unable to ignore this sticky business, our intrepid philosopher-sleuth begins to investigate. Meanwhile, all is not quiet on the home front: Jamie's friendship with a winsome American composer is beginning to worry Isabel, and as the esteemed editor of The Review of Applied Ethics, she must confront a major ethical dilemma of her own. An exceptionally eventful episode of another unconventional series by the author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
In narrating the fifth installment of this series, Davina Porter has so become the voice of the charmingly ethical Isabel Dalhousie that it is hard to imagine anyone else ever taking her place. The new novel gives Porter an opportunity to fill out Isabel's character; despite her best intentions, Isabel's voice occasionally rises with indignation or jealousy that is at odds with her belief system. A slightly venomous tone seeps into Isabel's voice as she contemplates an opportunity to humiliate her nemesis, Professor Dove. Toward the end of the novel, Porter performs a small tour de force in a ricocheting argument between Isabel and her niece. The two ping-pong their views without the slightest hesitation or slip on Porter's part. Porter's skillful performance will make listeners eager for the next installment. A Pantheon hardcover (Reviews, July 28). (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Even more than her first four adventures, Isabel Dalhousie's fifth is a record of complications that constantly challenge her ethical faculties while charmingly failing to disturb her tranquility. What happens when Professor Christopher Dove, who schemed unsuccessfully in The Careful Use of Compliments (2007) to replace Isabel as editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, sends her an article on the venerable Trolley Problem? After due thought, Isabel sends it out to two readers, just as she would a contribution by anyone else. What happens when her niece Cat takes a holiday in Sri Lanka with her current lover? Isabel manages Cat's delicatessen in her absence, of course. When Cat's assistant Eddie, a damaged boy, asks Isabel for money, she agrees to give it, come what may in the way of second thoughts. And when she suspects that American composer Nick Smart is interested in more than musical collaboration with Jamie, Cat's ex-lover and the father of Isabel's son Charlie, she cycles through one emotional reaction after another before the unsurprising resolution. In the thread most closely approximating an orthodox mystery, Stella Moncrieff pleads with Isabel to exonerate her husband, a physician in disgrace for allegedly altering information on the clinical trials of a new anti-MRSA drug and causing a man's death. Isabel is so perturbed that she wonders at one point if she's actually being threatened. Yet all ends quietly. Another insubstantial yet deeply rooted paean to Isabel's status as an "intermeddler" whose reasoning begins where other literary sleuths' ends.
[Isabel Dalhousie's] adventures are both delightfully entertaining and provocative.”—The Seattle Times "Offers tantalizing glimpses of Edinburgh's complex character and a nice, long look into the beautiful mind of a thinking woman."—The New York Times Book Review“Virtue and truth triumph. . . . If you enjoy discussing the big truths and thinking about thinking, you will enjoy The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday.”—The Providence Journal “One of the most irresistible sleuths in modern fiction.”—Tucson Citizen“Delightful.... McCall Smith's talent for dialog is matched only by his gift for characterization.”—Chicago Tribune“Utterly charming.... Alexander McCall Smith often celebrates the best of humanity—its compassion, its intuition, its empathy.”—The Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)“The exquisite writing and the kind charm of the characters are an oasis from 21st century life.”—The Birmingham Post“Enchanting.... Delicious mental comfort food.... The 'intimate' city of Edinburgh is an appealing character in its own right.”—Los Angeles Times“A witty, ruminative and wise examination of the things that comfort and sustain us.”—The Times-Picayune