Friday, 28 June 2013

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

"Something odd happened that night at the Usher Hall. I don't think that it was an accident. I really don't."

I've never read any of Alexander McCall Smith's novels before and after reading this I am sorry to say that I probably wouldn't jump at the chance to read another. I was really excited at the chance to read a new detective novel but it was not anywhere near as gripping as an Agatha Christie novel.

Contrary to my original expectations, this is not a plot-driven novel but a character driven novel which meant that the solving of the murder was not the focus of the plot. The protagonist was a Scottish woman by the name of Isabel Dalhousie who works as the editor for the 'Review of Applied Ethics' and as such many of the issues discussed were of a philosophical nature. Despite being mentioned in the title I did not expect the novel to have such a high volume of philosophical content and I found that it distracted from the main plot, making me lose interest.

The sub-plot within this novel revolved around Isabel's niece, Cat, and her love life. This led to two interesting characters, Toby, Cat's current boyfriend who always wears crushed-strawberry trousers, and Jamie, Cat's ex-boyfriend and a great friend of Isabel. Unfortunately this all distracted from the murder to such a degree that I was left confused as to what the real point of the story was.

Alexander McCall Smith - the author
Originally I felt that the action would be fast paced because the murder occurs so close to the beginning of the novel; however, I was wrong because the whole affair felt slow. In the interests of giving every book a fair chance, I was convinced that the denouement would include an interesting twist when the murderer was announced. Although I had not suspected the murderer,  I found the eventual conclusion weak and disappointing. For these reason, I would not choose another of McCall Smith's books in a hurry.

Please comment and let me know whether I am the only one to find this dull and disappointing.


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