Too much mystery

I did finish The Sunday Philosophy Club, and must confess I was disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were too high because I just love that No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. The big problem is that in general I don't really like mysteries that much. And I especially don't like mysteries like this one, where the sleuth is not a professional. Often, the author has to concoct some reason to justify the non-cop or non-private eye's involvement in the mystery. And in TSPC there really wasn't a good reason for the sleuth to be involved. Also, there were some pretty awful coincidences. She just happens to meet a man at an art gallery opening who turns out to be a source of information about the murder--which has to do with insider trading, not art.

However, I loved the bits of moral philosophy. The sleuth happens to be the editor of a philosophy journal, and she's constantly mulling over her moral duty to solve the murder versus mind her own business. There are also little descriptions of the articles she edits which are terrific. Here's a sample bit of philosophy on the topic of "premature forgiveness":
We needed resentment, he said, as it was resentment which identified and underlined the wrong. Without these reactive attitudes, we ran the risk of diminishing our sense of right and wrong, because we could end up thinking it just doesn't matter. So we should not forgive prematurely, which is presumably what Pope John Paul II had in mind when he waited for all those years before he went to visit his attacker in his cell.
Now isn't that such a cool idea? Especially after what I wrote in the last post? There, I was so annoyed because those girls in The Little Women would not forgive their parents. Hmmm.

TSPC also contained one of the best love scenes I've ever read. Check this out: ". . . they moved through to the bedroom and embraced. Toby said that he loved the smell in her bedroom; he disorganized her dress, and she had to struggle to keep her composure. Never before have I felt so intensely, she thought; never." Isn't that great? He disorganized her dress. Love it!

In the final analysis, I would suggest to Alexander McCall Smith that he write novels, not mysteries. The No. 1 Ladies' books aren't really mysteries, although mysteries are solved in the course of them. TSPC is too much mystery and not enough novel.


  • I agree about McCall Smith's writing novels not mysteries. I didn't find the sleuthing elements of #1LDA nearly as interesting as the relationship story lines.

    You should be an editor for a publishing house.

    posted by Blogger doulicia on 12:51 PM  

  • Can justice still be administered, even though forgiveness is given? Example, if I kill someone (say by drunk driving) their family may forgive me. But the law expects a murderer to face certain penalties. In other words, the law of society prevails.

    Resentment is the underlying emotion of withholding forgiveness. If you didn't feel 'wronged' you wouldn't seek justice because it wouldn't matter anymore. (But the prosecutor still would!)

    posted by Blogger mrsd on 9:41 PM  

  • Are you sure about that? My understanding is that prosecutors rarely prosecute if the victim "drops the charges."

    Actually, the more I ponder it, the more I wonder if the author was being tongue-in-cheek. I mean, the part about the Pope really is funny.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 10:00 PM  

  • No, I'm not sure...

    posted by Blogger mrsd on 9:44 AM