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The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie Novels Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Alexander McCall Smith
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher who also uses her training to solve unusual mysteries. Isabel is Editor of the Review of Applied Ethics - which addresses such questions as 'Truth telling in sexual relationships' - and she also hosts The Sunday Philosophy Club at her house in Edinburgh. Behind the city's Georgian facades its moral compasses are spinning with greed, dishonesty and murderous intent. Instinct tells Isabel that the young man who tumbled to his death in front of her eyes at a concert in the Usher Hall didn't fall. He was pushed.

With Isabel Dalhousie Alexander McCall Smith introduces a new and pneumatic female sleuth to tackle murder, mayhem - and the mysteries of life. As her hero WH Auden maintained, classic detective fiction stems from a desire for an uncorrupted Eden which the detective, as an agent of God, can return to us. But then Isabel, being a philosopher, has a thing or two to say about God as well.


Books In This Series (9 Books)
Complete Series

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    Review

    Vintage McCall Smith, written with a characteristic twinkle in his eye and the graceful clarity of an aesthetically attuned lawyer. (The HERALD)

    Sets up Isabel Dalhousie as Edinburgh's latest, and most engaging investigator. (The HERALD)

    The No. 2 Lady Detective... anyone who loves Precious cannot fail to be charmed (MAIL on Sunday)

    Isabel Dalhousie's charm is undeniable (Sunday TIMES)

    The Herald

    ‘Sets up Isabel Dalhousie as Edinburgh’s latest, and most engaging investigator.’ The Herald

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    More About the Author

    Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful 'No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' series, which has sold over twenty million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in The Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award.

    In addition to these series, Alexander writes stand-alone books. 2014 sees publication of three new novels which fall into this area: 'The Forever Girl'; 'Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party'; and 'Emma' - a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel. This year there will also be a stunning book on Edinburgh, 'A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh'. Earlier stand alone novels include 'La's Orchestra Saves the World' and 'Trains and Lovers: A Hearts Journey'.

    Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March of 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country.
    Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

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    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle and thought-provoking 9 July 2008
    By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    I've only recently sampled this McCall Smith series having found the Number 1 Ladies Detective Series too twee for my tastes. The heroine of the Philosophy Club series, Isabel Dalhousie, is a charming and interesting character who engages the reader to care about what happens in her life. The story-lines have several strands: her personal life; her amateur sleuthing; and her occupation as an editor of a philosophy journal. This last theme allows the author to explore aspects of moral philosophy and ethics (his own professional background). In the past I've tended to find writings about philosophy tedious, but the way the author incorporates philosophical issues into the fabric of these stories makes the ideas come alive. For those of us who know Edinburgh, reading about all the familiar streets and shops gives added pleasure. This is not a book based on realistic crime detection, such as Ian Rankin's Rebus series: it's more in the Simon Brett/ Agatha Christie camp.
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    14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE
    Format:Paperback
    The Sunday Philosophy Club is the beginning of a new series featuring the middle-aged and single Isabel Dalhousie. I'm going to confess right from the start that I did not take to Isabel as a character. In part, this is because I found that she rather stretched belief. She's an independently wealthy, middle-aged woman (who married the love of her life, only to be left by him) who has retained her looks but who isn't pursuing a relationship and who also happens to be a philosopher. I don't doubt that there are women like this in real life, but it is an awful lot to take in in what's actually quite a short book (coming in at just under 300 pages) and I did think that McCall Smith leveraged in the backstory with her lover John Liamor a little too obviously. Given that this is to be a series, I think that some of the backstory could have been alluded to so as to give the reader the idea that there's more to come before being drawn out in later novels. As it is, I'm not sure that there's enough left to discover about Isabel that would keep me reading.

    It's a shame that I didn't take to Isabel given that the book is really about her and her thoughts on modern day society. In fact, I thought that the summary on the back of the book was a little misleading because whilst the novel does begin with a death (which I thought was conveyed in a really believable manner, complete with a lovely touch about how the victim's shirt has risen up as he falls to expose his midrift), Isabel's investigations are really almost an afterthought - a thin skeleton on which to hang the characterisation.
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars edinburgh is the star 4 Jan. 2009
    Format:Hardcover
    I was "warned off" this series by a friend who said it was dire compared to the Scotland Street books - decided to give it a try, and really enjoyed the first novel.

    I don't think it matters whether Isabel is true to life - I personally don't know any single women philosophers with daily housekeepers! - novels are supposed to be at least partly an escapre from our daily round, and I love the fact that Isabel's affluence leaves her free to wander about thinking her thoughts and moving through Edinburgh society.

    The book is not as laugh out loud amusing as 44 Scotland Street and its successors, but it still kept me turning the pages - I was honestly not too bothered about the whodunit aspect, what I enjoyed was the evocation of Edinburgh life coupled with the consideration of moral questions. There are very few writers who raise these issues, especially in "light" novels, and I felt that Mr McCall Smith managed to introduce them in a very entertaining and unfusty way.

    The character I found least convincing was Cat - but maybe that's just because I don't think i would like her very much if she existed. I loved Jamie - and I have to admit that I am a middle-aged woman! I don't think he is wet, and I don't think it's unbelievable that he would wish to socialise with an older woman, with our without any sexual undertones.

    I don't find Mr McCall Smith's dialogue very "realistic" in either this or the Scotland Street books - but that's part of the attraction for me, I think he writes beautifully and I only wish people would talk as he writes; I don't want to read writing reflecting the appalling way that most of us speak!

    I've just started Friends, Lovers Chocolate, and so far it's even better.

    I think you either love this writer or you don't. I do.
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    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars The Same But Different? 29 July 2007
    Format:Paperback
    I bought this book as a fan of McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels, as no doubt many others did. Anyone expecting a rehash of No. 1, but with a Scottish location, will be disappointed, And whilst the main character, Isabel, is not as engaging as her No. 1 counterpart, she has grown on me.

    Botswana is swapped for Scotland, Gabarone for Edinburgh. The detective plot allows us to explore the thoughts, feelings and motivations of Isabel in much the same way as we have grown to know Precious. It is more important to finish this book with a better understanding of people, than to have "solved" the crime ahead of Isabel.

    There is a place for Isabel alongside Precious in my heart, and I will be following her adventures.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars ... Alexander McCall Smith who is now one of my favourite authors....
    My introduction to Alexander McCall Smith who is now one of my favourite authors. These series of books are charming and gentle. Read more
    Published 12 days ago by Magmac
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Very happy with book and it's condition.
    Published 1 month ago by Mrs S E Rimell
    5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and cosy
    A lovely and warmly written novel that engages and does not let you go! I am now forced to read the series?
    Published 2 months ago by Duncan Rose
    4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    Most enjoyable
    Published 2 months ago by Shelagh Booth
    2.0 out of 5 stars What was that all about?
    Does Alexander McCall Smith have a hang-up about crushedstrawberry coloured trousers and risotto? One of his characters, Bertie in 44 Scotland Street series hated his and... Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Scottigirl
    3.0 out of 5 stars Not convinced
    My first Dalhousie novel. Not sure that I will take to them as much as 44 Scotland Street but I will try another couple. Read more
    Published 3 months ago by anon 337
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Great read!
    Published 5 months ago by A. Brown
    4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
    As always, McCall Smith manages to engage the philosopher in us. Joining Isabelle in her tribulations on ethics and moral is thoroughly enjoyable. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by MummyJ
    5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
    Beautifully drawn characters as always. Close run thing for my favourite series of A McC S between this and the Botswana novels, always enjoyable
    Published 5 months ago by Ginny May
    3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not as good as other books by him!
    Having read the Scotland Street and No 1 Ladies detective series I was slightly disappointed with this, finding it a bit boring at times and feeling that the story line was lacking... Read more
    Published 5 months ago by LK
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