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The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday (Isabel Dalhousie #5)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,618 Ratings  ·  543 Reviews


Nothing captures the charm of Edinburgh like the bestselling Isabel Dalhousie series of novels featuring the insatiably curious philosopher and woman detective.  Whether investigating a case or a problem of philosophy, the indefatigable Isabel Dalhousie, one of fiction’s most richly developed amateur detectives, is always ready to pursue the answer
ebook, 150 pages
Published September 23rd 2008 by Anchor (first published 2008)
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Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've finally figured out why I keep reading this series, even though 1) the protagonist isn't a terribly good mystery-solver, and 2) nothing ever happens.
It's because Isabel Dalhousie is the anti-Sherlock.
She's an imperfect--indeed, often befuddled and just plain wrong--reader of people, clues, and situations.
And she cares about people, not puzzles.
She "solves" little, mundane mysteries (see #2 above) quite in spite of herself--not because she notices all the right details, nor because she comes
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Alexander McCall Smith fans; cosy mystery lovers; those who love Edinburgh.
Picked up my copy and planned to dive right in. Well, I got sidetracked by another book (imagine!) but once I did get back to Isabel and Co., I was in for good.

Definitely a great addition to the series, and it's always wonderful to drop in on Isabel Dalhousie, Grace, Brother Fox and the rest the Edinburgh world they live in. Jamie continues to grow as a character; Cat makes her usual confused appearance (but is she learning something?); Eddie's coming along nicely too. But it's always about Isa
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday
By Alexander McCall Smith

This is the first book I have read by this author, and I picked it up because I had read a positive review of it recently. In this story, Isabel Dalhousie, the owner and editor of a literary journal, who lives in Edinburgh, is asked to help clear the name of a doctor whose reputation has been ruined due to a scandal involving a drug trial.

We also meet Isabel’s lover Jamie, who is also the father of her young son, and who is considerably yo
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chance and a back-yard denizen, brother fox, are the leitmotifs of a muddy Saturday. McCall's charming nosy parker, sleuth, and all-around moral philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, editor and now owner of the Review of Applied Ethics, takes us on a charming and thought-provoking turn around the ethical life, set in Edinburgh but lived on any muddy day anywhere. This time Isabel takes up the aid of a depressed doctor who has lost his job and reputation because of the harm he caused in prescribing a new ...more
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-books
Isabel is a well-heeled, genteel Scots woman living in Edinborough, enjoying the upper levels of society and editing a scholarly journal on matters to do with ethics. She's a philosopher by training and so much of the story line deals with philosophical questions concerning such issues as the role guilt plays in behavior, or whether or not thoughts can be considered equal to actions (since they may not be acted upon) in terms of moral behavior and culpability. I enjoy her ruminations and find my ...more
Beth Bonini
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Isabel Dalhousie books are not mystery/detective series so much as a puzzling out of moral and ethical problems. In this case, Isabel is asked to help a doctor, Marcus Moncrieff, who has been discredited in his profession -- and sunk into a state of depression and shame. Each time Isabel interviews someone close to the situation, her understanding of it changes -- and her hypothesis about what happened undergoes change as well. We all do this, to some extent; but I think that what makes Isab ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Seriously? Alexander McCall Smith writes books like this and they sell? I say this as a sucker who bought a copy, albeit second-hand. I enjoyed the subtle and humorous prose of a couple books in the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series which were striking in its setting and its main character.

In "Saturdays", Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher who (for unexplained reasons) is wealthy and independent editor of an ethics journals. Dalhousie is asked to look into the affair of a well-known doct
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the pen of the prolific Alexander McCall Smith, this novel in his Isabel Dalhousie series is told from the perspective of his protagonist, the editor of the The Review of Applied Philosophy, herself the mother of sixteen-month-old Charlie and lover of Charlie’s father, Jamie. The novel is not really a mystery, although Isabel does become involved in sorting out the truth about a medical researcher accused of negligence. Rather it is more a long and gentle story that highlights Isabel’s ince ...more
Aug 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alexander McCall Smith is one of those authors whose books people either love or really don't like. Although I understand why he is not to everyone's taste (really, so little happens in the books), I love his books. This is a gentle book full of understanding of the human condition and insecurities that arise. My only complaint about this book is that the relationship between Isabel and Charlie, her nine-month-old son, seems to be such an unrealistically distant one, given who the character of I ...more
Isabel, having fallen in love with Jamie and had a child with him continues to be anxious about whether he truly loves her. Things conspire to rouse her jealousy and suspicions. Has Jamie been lying to her? Then she finds herself faced by some other relationships damaged by lying. How do we distinguish between truth and lies, and how an we repair relationships damaged by lies? Not rocket science perhaps but gentle and ....yes a comforting read. Sometimes we need a little comforting in our lives ...more
Steve Greenleaf
Mar 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-nos
This is my third adventure with Isabel Dalhousie after The Sunday Philosophy Club and Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. I found The Comfort of Saturdays at the most orderly, spacious, and well-lit, bookstore that I’ve yet found in India (via some mall-walking in Chennai). I try to read these in order, but I find that I’ve skipped a couple. In one sense, this is quite alright because Isabel is Isabel, but she has undergone some major changes in her life that give her even more to think about and to act ...more
In the fifth installment of the series, Isabel Dalhousie, Edinburgh philosopher extraordinaire, is approached by a woman she meets at a dinner party. Her reputation for assisting people in quandaries has spread far and wide, and the woman wants to enlist her aid to help with her own difficult situation. Stella Moncrieff's husband, Marcus, was once a prominent doctor, but his career ended in scandal after several people died from using an experimental drug he tested and declared safe. Stella susp ...more
Camilla Tilly
I started reading this book with a little bit of trepidation since I didn't really like number 4 in the series, but I really loved this book. Not at all because the so call "mystery" in this novel was interesting because it really wasn't that interesting and had an ambivalent solution.

No, what mad me love this book was the fact that Jamie, Isabel Dalhousie's (main character) 14 year younger boyfriend, finally became a man of flesh and blood in this book. The author finally lets him show emotion
Amanda Patterson
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have grown accustomed to the Dalhousie series. Set in Edinburgh, McCall Smith writes his magic into the streets and the pages of his creation.
Isabel Dalhousie, Edinburgh philosopher and amateur sleuth, is settling into her role as a new mother. However, a conversation at a dinner party leads her to meet with the wife of a doctor whose career has been ruined. Her lover, Jamie, wishes she would keep out of it, but she can’t ignore what may be a travesty of justice.
Even as a philosopher of note,
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the fabulous new installment in the best-selling adventures of Isabel Dalhousie, Isabel is asked to help a doctor who has been disgraced by allegations of scientific fraud concerning a newly marketed drug. Our ever-curious moral philosopher finds her interest piqued. Would a doctor with a stellar reputation make such a simple but grave mistake? If not, what explains the tragic accident that resulted in the death of a patient? Clearly, an investigation is in order, especially since a man's rep ...more
May 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, cozy-mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Gatheringwater
I'm afraid I've gone off this series and I feel a little sad about it, as I might feel after discovering my life has diverged from that of a once close friend. Smith's protagonist is a thoughtful, kind, and well-meaning woman and I have nothing bad to say about her, but with her seemingly unlimited wealth, her lovely home in historic Edinburgh, her gorgeous young boyfriend, and now her adorable baby, we really don't have anything in common. If I read another book about her charmed life I fear I ...more
I enjoyed this installment in the series a bit less than the previous title since the 'mystery' bit didn't engage me as fully as the 'art' mystery of the previous novel. I do enjoy how McCall-Smith ends his mysteries with wise insights into human nature.

I also found reading this series to be a totally different experience after having read about, and learned about, "NVC - Compassionate Communciation". I realize this is fiction, however, it is interesting to notice from a different vantage point
Mamma mia! OK essere filosofi è un conto ma vivere nella paranoia come Isabel Dalhousie è tutt'altra cosa...
Addirittura chiedersi come chiamare la pappa del neonato...
Tralasciamo poi i penosi ragionamenti sulle questioni sociali, segno che la protagonista non ha mai sentito nominare nessun economista o filosofo-economista...

Il giallo vero è proprio si può riassumere in 10 pagine al massimo, alla fine la protagonista non c'azzecca nulla (non avendo nemmeno condotto un'indagine per la verità) e si
Apr 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Does Alexander McCall Smith ever sleep? How does he keep up this publishing schedule? While I prefer his books that are set in Africa, this Sunday Philosophy Club series is a charming, laid-back series of stories set in contemporary Scotland. I wouldn't rush out to buy one of this series as soon as they are published, but usually check them out when they appear on the new book shelf at the library. The main character, Isabel Dalhousie intrigues me. I think that her complex character is masked by ...more
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I thought the author stopped writing these. There are so many of the "Women's Detective Agency" set in Africa, that I thought he abandoned these characters. I happened on this by chance and what at great chance it turned out to be. I really liked linking up with the characters again and finding out how the relationships and interrelationships have progressed.

The main character, Isabel Dalhousie, continues to meddle into things that she has no business meddling, even though she has the best inte
Dec 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a word, The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, the fifth book in Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series, is delightful. This is always the word I use to describe his books, but I don't mind being redundant. They are simply a delight to read. They are thoughtful, but not pretentious. Easy to read, but not lacking in emotional or intellectual depth. Pleasant, enjoyable, entertaining. I could go on. And although some might discount these books for their "safeness" or look down on them for b ...more
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I really like this gentle, literate series starring Isobel Dalhousie of Edinburgh. She harks back to a kinder time although she is no stranger to the harsher realities of life. The sense of moral philosophy amuses me when she pauses in her thoughts or conversations to ponder the moral question of the subject at hand. It's a good thing that Isobel is well-off. I doubt that she could hold a job in the real world. Fortunately, she doesn't have to but can give us a glimpse into her well-ordered worl ...more
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning of the series, I liked Isabel Dalhousie. She was a strong, take charge woman. For that reason, I am disappointed in this book where her character has developed into an insecure person who is seemingly obsessed about the age difference between herself and Jamie. Her infatuation with Jamie seems to be purely physical with little attention given to his feelings, talent or wit.

This time around there is a lack of plot. Unfortunately this audiobook was rather dull. As I'm seldom temp
Comforts of a Muddy Saturday (#5) by Alexander McCall-Smith is set in contemporary Edinburgh Scotland. Isabel Dalhousie continues her leisurely life with her beloved baby and lover. She helps out in her niece's deli, edits her philosophical journal, and suffers fits of jealousy over her lover's attractiveness to other women (unwarranted; he's entirely faithful). A friend asks Isabel to investigate to clear her husband's reputation (a doctor accused of malpractice). A gently entertaining read, hi ...more
Upside: Smooth, beautiful prose. Ethical musings by a professional philosopher, which is a rarity in fiction.
Downside: Neurotically ethical lead character - I mean, this lady practically wonders whether it's morally wrong to spread Philadelphia cream cheese too thickly on a slice of banana bread. If so, I for one am going straight to hell.

Anyway, maybe five books is too many of this series to read, although, obviously, overall, I like the series very much. The lack of a fourth star is to remind
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the international phenomenon The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie Series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on many national and international bodies concerned with bioethics. He was born in what ...more
More about Alexander McCall Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Isabel Dalhousie (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie, #1)
  • Friends, Lovers, Chocolate (Isabel Dalhousie, #2)
  • The Right Attitude to Rain (Isabel Dalhousie, #3)
  • The Careful Use of Compliments (Isabel Dalhousie, #4)
  • The Lost Art of Gratitude (Isabel Dalhousie, #6)
  • The Charming Quirks of Others (Isabel Dalhousie, #7)
  • The Forgotten Affairs Of Youth (Isabel Dalhousie, #8)
  • The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (Isabel Dalhousie, #9)
  • The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie, #10)
  • A Distant View of Everything (Isabel Dalhousie #11)

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“We can be confident in our dealings with the world when what the world sees is the outer person, with all the outer person's defences: the intimacy of a love affair is a different matter altogether. And who might not feel just the slightest bit insecure under the gaze of a lover--a gaze which falls on birthmarks, on blemishes physical and psychological, on our imperfections and impatience, on our human vulnerability?” 10 likes
“We like to think that we plan what happens to us, but it is chance, surely, that lies behind so many of the great events of our lives -- the meeting with the person with whom we are destined to spend the rest of our days, the receiving of a piece of advice whic influences our choice of career, the spotting of a particular house for sale; all of these may be put down to pur chance, and yet they govern how our lives work out and how happy--or unhappy--we were going to be.” 10 likes
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