Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Sunday Philosophy Club

The Sunday Philosophy Club: an Isabel Dalhousie Mystery
Alexander McCall Smith

6 out of 10

Not a great score, but it gets slightly better than even because I did actually finish it. As a mystery novel, it was sincerely lacking. As a philosophy book, more interesting than not. Of course, I would like to point out that it is supposed to be a mystery, not a course in philosophy.

The main character is Isabel Dalhousie, a middle-aged editor of a philosophy journal. She witnesses a young man's death and feels morally obliged to investigate. That is the motif of this novel: morally obliged. She actually ponders (and does so at great length, I might add) the philosophical grounds for the majority of her actions, some of which could actually inspire debate, while others merely helped cure my insomnia.

There is really no fast-paced action or suspense. The whole book is like an exercise in the practical application of ethics. We could have read this in my philosophy class in college. At least in comparison it would have been interesting.

And there's just one little thing: Isabel is in love with the boy who is in love with her niece. It's excessively weird, and I just wanted to ignore it, but it kept coming up. By the end of the book, I was screaming "cougar" in my mind.

That being said, if you're interested in philosophical debate, it is fairly well written, and there is a plot behind all of the educational material.