Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Sunday Philosophy Club - Alexander McCall Smith

I quickly became enamored with Mme Precious Ramotswe while reading The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (1999) by Alexander McCall Smith. What's not to love about this full-figured, unorthodox lady detective, Botswana's first and finest? Her matter-of-fact nature, built on traditional womanly values, enables her to solve all manner of mysteries with warmth and hilarity. I was instantly hooked.

The Sunday Philosophy Club (2004) is another series by McCall Smith. This time, it features a philosopher and amateur sleuth, Isabel Dalhousie, and is set in Edinburgh, Scotland. The blurb sounded promising and I looked forward to delving into a new series.

The narrative is stilted with liberal doses of minutiae (which is extremely well researched), yet the characters and plot are incredibly shallow, despite attempts to be otherwise. The same level of detail was somehow charming when set in Botswana, but just serves as an unnecessary distraction in this book, almost reducing the plot to a series of fragmented ramblings. The promised action never eventuates, and as for The Sunday Philosophy Club ... who and where are they? They don't actually make an appearance, apart from a fleeting reference somewhere near the middle of the book. The ongoing mystery was lamely resolved, among gaping holes in the plot and hefty assumptions made about various characters. I came away feeling really disappointed.

I read two other books between starting and finishing this one; sheer determination that this should not become another #BookFAIL was barely enough to keep me going. I think I'll stick with Precious Ramotswe in future.

1 comment:

Genki said...

What a disappointment. I hadn't got around to reading this yet but also loved the No 1 ladies detective series. Have you seen the TV adaptation incidentally?

I'll probably steer clear in that case.