Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective. Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction’s most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answers to all of life’s questions, large and small.
In this delightful second installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s best-selling new detective series, the irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, gets caught up in an affair of the heart–this one a transplant.
When Isabel’s niece, Cat, asks Isabel to run her delicatessen while she attends a wedding in Italy, Isabel meets a man with a most interesting problem. He recently had a heart transplant and is suddenly plagued with memories of events that never happened to him. The situation appeals to Isabel as a philosophical question: Is the heart truly the seat of the soul? And it piques her insatiable curiosity: Could the memories be connected with the donor’s demise? Of course, Grace–Isabel’s no-nonsense housekeeper–and Isabel’s friend Jamie think it is none of Isabel’s business. Meanwhile, Cat brings home an Italian lothario, who, in accordance with all that Isabel knows about Italian lotharios, shouldn’t be trusted . . . but, goodness, he is charming.
That makes two mysteries of the heart to be solved–just the thing for Isabel Dalhousie.
Another book that has been sat on my shelves for longer than I care to remember.
In Friends, Lovers, Chocolate Isobel Dalhousie is back. When asked to look after niece Cat’s bistro whilst Cat visits her friend in Italy, Isobel meets Ian who is on the road to recovery after a heart transplant. As Ian confides in Isobel about some episodes he’s been having, Isobel begins to consider her own beliefs and sets out on a mission to help out her new friend.
Isobel cannot help herself but get involved in other people’s lives. Whether it’s Cat, her niece, or Cat’s ex Jamie who Isobel has a connection with that even she doesn’t want to delve into, it’s random people she meets or events that happen around her. The Sunday Philosophy Club books remind me a lot of Agatha Christie in that the main characters always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (I refer to Miss Marple, Poirot etc) and end up on a road that they probably would be better not to travel. I found myself wanting to warn her to just stay out of it, it doesn’t affect her in anyway but Isobel just cannot help herself.
I’m not really sure what I think to Isobel as a main character. I like her but sometimes she comes across as a little opinionated. However I do find myself smiling at some of her inner thoughts, as they seem so normal.
I do enjoy the growing relationship between Isobel and Jamie. It makes Isobel seem more human and relatable as a character that she has these growing feelings that she doesn’t want. We all make the mistake of falling for a person we shouldn’t and that is still the case for Isobel. Also I love her housekeeper Grace and would love to see more of their friendship in future books as well as more of Grace’s personal life which we got a glimpse of in Friends, Lovers, Chocolate.
This series reminds me a lot of crime novels without the dramatic, gruesome detail that a most crime novels include. I enjoyed the “whodunnit’ themes that run through the story and couldn’t really guess where the book was going to lead which kept me reading, eager to discover what the ending held.
This wasn’t my favourite book by any means but I did enjoy it and would read the rest of the series. Not sure if I would choose to re read once finished but definitely something for people to try that would like to try something different to romance and love stories but not quite ready for the deep darkness that is a crime novel.
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Have you read Friends, Lovers, Chocolate? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!