Alexander McCall Smith’s books are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, the perfect thing to read whilst having a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I now preorder all of them as I finish each one, so get the delight of a surprise book in the post months after ordering.
Isabel Dalhousie lives in an idealised version of upper middle class Edinburgh, where everyone always knows everyone else. A moral philosopher, she spends much of her time worrying about what the right thought and action is in every situation and endevours to follow this. The internal monologue which results from this makes for a very pleasant read.
As in the Number One Ladies Detective Agency, the heroine finds herself unraveling the problems of the community, usually when they have come to her seeking help in resolving them. Isabel spends a lot of her time trying to get to the truth of tangle situations and half-truths, and generally discovers a perfectly reasonable and mundane answer to what she has built up to be a very suspicious set of circumstances. There are a lot of coincidences in these books, but in The Charming Quirks of Others, like the full series, this seems reasonable given a small intellectual community who reside in Edinburgh, sharing common history, schooling and acquaintances.
If you are happy to accept the intellectual community of Edinburgh as a well-connected village then this is a very entertaining and soothing series to read.