The Sunday Philosophy Club: An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith, was the perfect plane trip book. It has a light tone, moves quickly, and is very engaging. However, it is more than just something to pass the time; I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the characters. Although the story is a mystery, of sorts, the focus is more on character and human nature than it is on the mystery itself. The main character, Isabel, is the editor of a journal of applied ethics, and a keen observer of human behavior. She actually does a good bit of philosophizing during the events of the plot, which could seem contrived or out of place in some light mystery novels, but fit in quite well in this book. Smith manages to weave various moral issues into the plot smoothly and without trivializing them. I enjoyed the way in which Isabel noticed things about people, because I have similar tendencies. The story takes place in Edinburgh and made me want to visit there, if only because the characters always walked or took the bus – ah, small European cities. The only slightly curious thing about the book was the title: it was mentioned a few times that Isabel ran a club called The Sunday Philosophy Club, but the club never actually met during the time-frame of the book, and we did not meet anyone who attended the club, other than Isabel herself.
I look forward to reading more Isabel Dalhousie books, as well as other novels by Smith (such as The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, for which he became well-known).