The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

The Sunday Philosophy Club vcBlurb:

Isabel, the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics and an occasional detective, has been accused of getting involved in problems that are, quite frankly, none of her business. In this first instalment, Isabel is attending a concert in the Usher Hall when she witnesses a man fall from the upper balcony. Isabel can’t help wondering whether it was the result of mischance or mischief. Against the best advice of her no-nonsense housekeeper Grace, her bassoon playing friend Jamie, and even her romantically challenged niece Cat, she is morally bound to solve this case.


In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes, very much      

For people who like: cosy mysteries, philosophical  musings, Edinburgh

My thoughts: 

What a treat! After reading “The perils of morning coffee” I was eager to read the first book in the series and I wasn’t disappointed. “The Sunday Philosophy Club” was not only cosy, but even gentle, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Isabel Dalhousie sort of becomes entangled in a mystery – to tell the truth, she gets involved by choice –, and tries to get behind the reason for a young man’s death. A death that the police finds unsuspicious, it was an accident to everybody but Isabel.

In her sleuthing attempts she meets interesting people and continuously ponders philosophical issues. It was interesting to observe how her awareness of how to be nice and charitable was thrown out the window when she herself assumes the worst of people and is not too shy to share those thoughts with others. Often we would just read an inner monologue where she tries to decide what to do and what it entails, then again she has delightful conversations with her housekeeper Grace, her niece Cat and other people somehow involved either in her life or the case. Especially Grace was a wonderful character whom I will be happy to hear more about in the next books.

I very much liked the location (how could one not love Edinburgh?), the description of social life there and the different circles Isabel got in contact with, the philosophers, the musicians, the financiers. Our sleuth Isabel  has quite a vivid imagination. She is rather quick with her assumptions and conclusions, and in her mind someone turns from friend and ally to murderer in a heartbeat. It was fun to see how her carefully thought out ideas turned to dust.

Now I am coming to Jamie. I am not sure what to think about Isabel’s relationship with him. In the short story I read previously he was there also (that story is set later on, not sure when) and from the context and his being mentioned in the way he was I gathered he was Isabel’s boyfriend, husband, someone along those lines. Now it turns out he is Cat’s ex boyfriend and Isabel and he are only good friends, even though Isabel might be a little bit in love with the younger man. So, I am curious to see how that relationship develops and into what direction.

This was a delightful first book of a series that makes me want to read the next one right NOW. 

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKUsher Hall

Images from wikipedia. Usher Hall by Kim Traynor

Product info and buy link :

Title The Sunday Philosophy Club
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 978-1400077090
I got this book from the library
Buy link Buy The Sunday Philosophy Club
More info The Sunday Philosophy Club series
and more Alexander McCall Smith’s website


Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

5 Comments Write a comment

    • I am reading the second one right now. I really like the series. I am glad there are already quite a few books out.


    • I really, really liked it, Caroline, and am reading the second book now. Equally good! Oh, btw, I ordered the first Hamish Macbeth the other day….


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