Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith


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.

In a nutshell:

I read it in: English

I liked it:     Yes       

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

My thoughts: 

This is the second instalment in “The Sunday Philosophy Club “ series and another delightful read. The atmospheric Edinburgh setting, the “mystery” and the lovely characters make for another very cosy read.

Isabel herself is a character I am not 100% sure about. Do I like her or do I dislike her? In this book I tended towards the latter because she came over as a terrible busybody who just can’t leave anything alone. Her excuse that she has a “moral obligation” to act because someone told her something and now she is somehow responsible for the outcome is rather shaky. Ian never asked her to act – either on his behalf or independently – and still she digs and digs and hurts people along the way. She is the type who stops at nothing just to salve her own conscience (which is an oxymoron really, when you come to think about it).

In this particular case she tries to find the person who donated the organ and does so by flipping through papers to find a death, eventually finds one that seems the right one and assumes he is the donor. How naive and simplistic can you get? And this from a person who is supposed to be a philosopher who thinks every little detail through until the very end. First of all how likely is it that an organ donor dies in the city where the recipient lives? Who says that the dead person was an organ donor at all? Her method is “assuming – acting” without one bit of thought for the people involved. So she goes, hurts the supposed donor’s family and makes an enemy at the same time.

There is no end to her rash acts and  inconsideration in this story. When it would be better to call Jamie to get her out of a tricky situation she rather calls Ian and gets him into an even trickier one! The poor man just had a heart transplant, but she calls him (without warning to boot) to go and meet the person eye to eye who supposedly causes his anguish!

And what about the wish of the donor’s family to remain anonymous? It’s nothing to Isabel. To hunt them down she doesn’t shy away from asking a journalist friend to call in a favour from a surgeon who surely has to violate medical confidentiality. Then she goes and visits the mother who tells her that the father of the donor doesn’t know about the donation and she wants to leave it at that. Can you guess Isabel’s next action? Right! She goes and visits the father (who seems like a nice guy to her) and tells him about it.

She goes through the whole story pondering philosophical issues, pondering what it takes to be a good and charitable person and at the same time judges any situation or person according to her whim and acts on that without any respect for the wishes, feelings and possible consequences for other people.

The most amazing thing is that Isabel still comes over as only human and rather likeable – even though I wanted to beat some sense into her throughout the book.

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Map UKRobert Fergusson's grave

Product info and buy link :

Title Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
Author Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher Anchor
ISBN 9781400077106
I got this book from I bought it
Buy link Buy Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
More info Alexander McCall Smith’s website


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

3 Comments Write a comment

  1. This seems like the perfect reading for me. I love Edinburgh and detective stories and, as superficial as it may sound, I love the cover.

    I’m glad I discovered your blog. There are never enough detective fans around 🙂
    Elena’s last post ..The Sealed Letter Review


    • Yes, those Anchor covers are absolutely wonderful. Much better than all the other issues. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for following me on twitter. I’ll check out your blog, too.


  2. I have just recently finished reading friends, lovers, chocolate and i am very pleased to find a blog about it on It is such a relaxing novel. I still remember reading it beside my heater with peanuts on my side. Rightfully mentioned in the blog as “cozy read”. I would strongly recommend it to people who feel like reading something relaxing and not nerve racking.


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