Mma Ramotswe was always going to be a hard act to follow and, wisely, Alexander McCall Smith has set his new series as far away from Botwana as possible. I anticipated that his new heroine would share some of Precious Ramotswe's intuitive understanding of human nature. However, Isabel Dalhousie is an academic - a philosopher, much give to musing over the dicta of Hume, Kant et al. Quite hard for the ordinary reader to relate to. She's a very privileged woman, even by the standards of Morningside (the 'posh' part of Edinburgh) where ladies who lunch lurk behind the net curtains and no-one would be seen dead sending their kids to a state school! The world of academe, the law and high finance is a far cry from the dusty streets of Gaborone - so why did this Scots reviewer feel so much less at home in the Scottish capital?
The characters seem to me to lack warmth (mind you, so does Edinburgh) and his ear for dialogue seems to have deserted the author, even in Isabel's exchanges with her beloved niece, Cat. Even in Edinburgh, surely they don't use the impersonal 'one' all the time! There is quite a lot of interior monologue with the heroine mulling over the situation and thinking about her past (not all past) love of a husband long gone to California. The one character who, I thought, had the potential for development and more humorous treatment, is Grace, Isabel's housekeeper, devoted to her employer and to Cat, but never mincing words or shrinking from expressing an opinion - also a severe critic of Edinburgh's public transport!
In short, I was disappointed with this novel because I couldn't relate to the characters, nor could I get excited by the plot which wended a rather wearisome way through the novel and was occasionally lost sight of completely while Isabel interfered with her niece's love life.