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“Friends, Lovers, Chocolate” Reviewed by Beverly Nield

PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK TRAIL

Alexander McCall Smith has long been a favorite author of mine. He is best known for his “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series set in Botswana. There are at least 18 books in this collection. They can be found on the shelves at the Bay County Library. McCall Smith has also written several other delightful series of novels. The books I especially enjoy are from McCall Smith’s “44 Scotland Street” series.

The characters leap off the page and become your friends. Young Bertie is a favorite with many readers as he learns to cope with his insufferable mother. She is so controlling with strict views on child rearing that allow no time for fun. He has to learn Italian, play the saxophone, attend therapy, and go to yoga, all before he is six. His mother forces him to wear crushed strawberry trousers as she is vehemently against stereotyping. Humor abounds throughout the pages.

Best of all for me are the Isabel Dalhousie mysteries in McCall Smith’s “Sunday Philosophy Club” series. “Friends, Lovers, Chocolate” (2005) is the second in that series. It also takes place in Scotland. Isabel is a delightful character whose mother hails from Mobile, Alabama. In this novel you will meet Grace, the curmudgeonly cleaning lady. Cat, Isabel’s niece, owns a delicious-sounding deli and struggles with relationships. Jamie, a young bassoonist is a major player in the Edinburgh music scene. The depth of character, especially of Isabel, a philosopher, is superb. Her thoughts as she tackles tricky problems are not only intriguing but profound as she struggles with moral and ethical dilemmas.

As the insatiably curious Isabel unravels mysteries, the reader is drawn into her romantic, amusing, humorous, and thought-provoking adventures. These books are not violent, unlike so much of modern detective fiction, but they have a puzzle to be solved that keeps one guessing to the end.

 

ABOUT BEVERLY NIELD

Beverly Nield spent her first 47 years in England, living mostly in Northamptonshire, and moved to Panama City in 2006 with her husband and family. She studied history at Cambridge University and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, enjoying her own ancestral research as well as helping others on their quest. She remembers that leaving all her and England’s history behind was incredibly hard. Good books kept her sane, as did playing tennis. Beverly is a volunteer with several community organizations such as Goodwill where she worked as volunteer developer. In recent years, she was the driving force behind organizing a haunted historical tour of Downtown Panama City and has collected and researched the town’s lore and stories. Beverly’s book about Haunted Panama City is soon to be published by Arcadia Publishing. 

 

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