Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Ya Readin': Detecting in Scotland

Well five days into 2010 and I have started to make an indent on my pile of Christmas book. They were exactly what I wanted, though it helps that I ordered the ones my husband gifted me to ensure that they were:)

I decided to commence the year catching up on what had happened in Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series. I had the two latest novels outstanding. They lived up to my expectations and, as usual with AMS novels, I felt like I was leaving a good friend when I reached their closing pages.

In the 'Comfort of Saturdays' Isabel is drawn into the case of a Doctor who appears to have been mistakenly accused of falsifying a report on the safety of an experimental drug. Meanwhile, in her private life she is having issues with Jamie's friendship with the American composer, Nick Smart; who is arrogant and very rude to Isabel from the outset.

In 'The Lost Art of Gratitude' Isabel is convinced by an associate of an earlier case - Minty Auchterlonie (from vague memory she featured in the first of the Isabel Dalhousie series) to investigate threats she has been receiving, supposedly from the father of her young son. Isabel's niece Cat has a new love interest, inappropriate as usual, a tight-rope walker called Bruno.

Isabel and Jamie's son, Charlie, is growing up. He has his first kilt, goes to his first birthday party (though whether the invitee could be called his friend is debatable as in their first encounter Roderick is described by Isabel as 'an alpha baby trying to take her son's boot from him by brute force') and says his first word 'olives'. Their are also romantic developments afoot for Isabel and Jamie as they consider formalising their relationship.

What I like about Alexander McCall Smith's novels is his gentle but witty and thought provoking prose. From the Lost Art of Gratitude (p. 49)

'Jamie himself had referred to what he called her Pre-Raphaelite beauty; 'Holman Hunt might have painted you,' he had said. She had protested that she found this most unlikely, but she had been flattered, and had filed the remark away in her memory, to be taken out and reflected upon, as such compliments should be, when one was feeling one's worst, on a bad-hair day.'

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