Recently a friend, who is an avid reader, commented to me that because she is in a distracted time in her life, she was finding it hard to focus on novels. That certainly has happened to me before too. She went on to say that the Smith series were so valuable to her during this time because they are so easy to read, approachable, and comforting, while still being full of really worthwhile stuff.
This is the genius of Smith’s series, whether it is the No. 1 Ladies Detective series, Isabel Dalhousie, or 44 Scotland Street… Smith’s everyday moral dilemmas, amusing commentary on human life, and situational humour, paired with his easy storytelling style make for such an enjoyable reading experience. And of course a series is immediately effortless because it simply carries on with characters that we already know. One of the perks of living in England for a few years, was being able to go to a lovely bookstore in London once a year to listen to ‘Sandy’ Smith talk about his books and his characters. With great charm and mirth he would talk about what his characters were up to now and what interesting situations they might be getting into in future, as if they were all perfectly real and part of our family. We, an audience full of strangers, were all chuckling right along with him.
This instalment in a series about an insatiably curious Scottish philosopher, has Isabel sorting out a high stakes crime, though weirdly without much peril or suspense. Somehow she attracts people who ask her to be involved in sleuthing out their mysteries. She usually manages to use the right combination of good sense, quick wits, and a kind heart to come to the right conclusion in the end.