Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Sunday Philosphy Club: An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery

From Singles 2009

Isabel was amused by the idea that gestures should accompany verbal references. She was intrigued to see devout Catholics cross themselves at the mentions of the BVM - and she liked the acronym BVM itself, which made Mary sound so reassuringly modern and competent, like a CEO or an ICBM, or even a BMW.

Well. I do like that acronym! It was new to me... and since I've found a deficit in Catholicism in Australia I'll help y'all out: Blessed Virgin Mary. (Now, you should cross yourself.)

Isabel Dalhousie is a very wealthy Scottish woman. She attended university, studied philosophy, fell in love with a cad. Now, she putters around doing the crossword puzzle, editing "The Review of Applied Ethics", entertaining her niece Cat, Cat's former boyfriend Jamie (though not together, much to her disappointment), and taking in cultural events around Edinburgh. It is at a concert that she witnesses a young man fall from the upper balcony to his death. Her curiosity and unwavering commitment to living an ethical life (along with a push from the deceased's roommate) lead her to investigate - convinced foul play is afoot.

Maybe if I had studied philosophy I might have appreciated her thoughts, comments, and conflicts. But, I didn't.

In addition, Isabel comes across as a bit of a doddering old lady - well, maybe doddering is extreme. (I'd find a passage as an example but I really want to be finished with this book.) So, if not quite doddering, then worn out, inconsequential, way past her use by date - and SHE'S YOUNGER THAN I AM. Two things: this is no way to endear a character to me and, secondly, who is this man (the author) hanging around with? He is either decades older than I am and only associating with his peers OR he would only consider women in their 20's - maybe 30 - to be bright, vital, and useful in the world.

So, you see I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the book to start with. My appreciation for it, however, NOSEDIVED (as hard as that may be to believe) when I read the "climax". This is how you solve a mystery??? ARGHHH.

Finally, I need to say that this book was a gift to me and I do appreciate the thought and feel conflicted about expressing such a negative opinion. I was also given another from this series and I'm actually looking forward to reading it. A quick check on Amazon (to get the photo, actually) supported my thoughts and comments (the book averaged only 3 stars there), but also suggested that other books were better (4 stars). We shall see.


Friendless said...

I enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series, though they're not really mysteries either. I have all of them if you'd like to read them.

NNV said...

Thanks John. Before I start another series, I need to finish Burke's Robicheaux novels. I read this last book while waiting for my next hit from the library.

Cathi said...

I'm afraid I don't get on with Alexander McCall Smith at all :) horses for courses I guess

NNV said...

Horses for that a menu item? :) !!