Synopsis: Isabel is fond of problems, and sometimes she becomes interested in problems that are, quite frankly, none of her business. This may be the case when Isabel sees a young man plunge to his death from the upper circle of a concert hall in Edinburgh.
Despite the advice of her housekeeper, Grace, who has been raised in the values of traditional Edinburgh, and her niece, Cat, who, if you ask Isabel, is dating the wrong man, Isabel is determined to find the truth – if indeed there is one – behind the man’s death. The resulting moral labyrinth might have stymied even Kant.
And then there is the unsatisfactory turn of events in Cat’s love life that must be attended to…
My Review: I had high hopes for this book, I love a mystery, but I found it starting off much more slowly than I thought it would. Although the mysterious death occurs in the very first paragraph, it takes quite a bit of time for the investigation to start, and I hate to admit that I’m a little impatient for that!
Throughout the book, people are telling Isabel that she is getting involved in things that aren’t her business, and I completely agreed. But there is a huge part of me that completely understands her impulse to investigate these mysteries…which is probably why I don’t watch the local news!
I couldn’t help but find myself comparing Isabel to Lady Julia Grey, of the Silent in the Grave series. I have always felt that Julia was a very lovable detective, whereas Isabel quite irritated me for much of the book. There were numerous times when Isabel would have an internal dialog and conclude that she was right. I found this terribly frustrating, because I prefer characters who acknowledge their flaws versus arriving at the conclusion that they are correct.
My irritation with Isabel aside, I liked the book and the story, and I may find that Isabel herself might grow on me in the future. Even though she is a frustrating leading character, her nose for finding the truth is admirable and I do wish that more people in real life were that way. It’s a pretty short book, so it makes for a fast read, and would be something fabulous to read on vacation this summer.
Read this book if: You like mysteries, or are familiar with some of the other work of Alexander McCall Smith. He also wrote “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency“, so I think a lot of fans of that will like this as well.