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Reviews of Sunday Philosophy Club, the (2004)

Review by mojosmom (2005-03-29)
First of a new series by the author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, this mystery is set in Edinburgh. The protagonist is a middle-aged, well-off single woman, Isabel Dalhousie, with a degree in philosophy from Cambridge, who enjoys music and The Scotsman's crossword puzzle, and is editor of the Review of Applied Ethics. One evening, at a concert, she sees a young man fall from the upper circle, and she becomes interested in finding out what precipitated his fall. Was it an accident, suicide, or, as seems more likely the more she learns of his life, murder? It seems the young man was in a position to know about certain insider trading, and may have been a threat to someone because of it.

The unifying thread of this book is the question of truth vs. falsehood, and whether it is ever ethical to tell a lie. Isabel discovers her niece's fiancÚ is unfaithful, and is faced with the question so beloved of advice columnists: should she tell her niece? And, when she learns it, she must decide whether or not to reveal the truth about Mark's death.

There is, naturally, a great deal of philosophy in this book, and, for me, Isabel's philosophical musings and internal Socratic dialogues are the chief delight. It is not, however, necessary to be familiar with Kant, Bok or any other philosopher in order to enjoy Smith's latest.

On a side note, there is a guest appearance by the Really Terrible Orchestra, in which Smith is a basoonist!

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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