Jon's Reviews > The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday

The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday by Alexander McCall Smith
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Jun 23, 09


Alexander McCall Smith wrote one of the most entertaining short stories I've ever read in "Heavenly Date and other Flirtations." And I love the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books--they have a charm, innocence, and solid "placiness" that are hard to resist. This series is far less charming, in my view. There is nothing placey about this version of Edinburgh. Locales are named, but no associations are evoked. It could be set anywhere. Isabel Dalhousie admits over and over that she thinks too much, which is true, but less true than that she doesn't think very interestingly. She ponders, literally, everything, but she rarely comes up with anything fresh or surprising, or that the reader hasn't already thought as well. She builds elaborate castles of surmise on observations that turn out to have been wrong. Her possessive worries about the faithfulness of her lover finally become just plain annoying in this latest installment. I'm beginning to think McCall Smith simply writes too much--with Mma Ramotswe, Isabel, and his 44 Scotland Street series each having a new installment at least every year. He needs to consider that every single thing that crosses his mind is not necessarily worth publishing.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Snorri (new)

Snorri Sturluson I have read one earlier book in this series. Having now read your review (not one word of which surprised me), I know that once was enough.


message 2: by Vilo (new)

Vilo I do like the Isabel Dalhousie books, but can understand that not everyone would. I do feel they evoke a great sense of place and of the history of Scotland, and some particular concerns to Scots. The philosophical musings are interesting if one is accustomed to musing philosophically . . . and having people wish you wouldn't.

The pace is very slow, which I like but know not everyone would. Listening on audio is--well, even slower.

I agree about the "Heavenly Date" book. Incredible and the stories are diverse but each one very strong.


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