This is the first book I have read by Alexander McCall Smith. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, he has a series that takes place in Africa and this one, the Sunday Philosophy Club series, which takes place in Scotland. The Sunday Philosophy Club series stars Isabel Dalhousie, a woman who is independently wealthy (must be nice!), but she also has a part-time job as a general editor for the Review of Applied Ethics. Consequently, she considers herself a philosopher and spends a lot of time thinking about the ethics involved in any given situation. This can be quite thought-provoking for the reader as well.
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate is the second book in this series. Isabel agrees to watch her niece, Cat’s, delicatessen while Cat attends a wedding in Italy. While doing so, she meets Ian, a psychologist who recently had a heart transplant. When he learns that Isabel is a philosopher, he tells her of some strange experiences he has had since he got the transplant. He sometimes experiences a jolt of pain, not in the heart, but in the front of his body and his shoulders. With the pain comes the vision of a face, a face belonging to someone Ian is sure he has never met. Ian could describe the face in detail–a high brow, hooded eyes, and a scar running just below the hairline. Neither he nor Isabel are big believers in cellular memory, but they cannot explain Ian’s vision, and they have both read about these types of experiences among transplant patients.
Ian knows nothing about the person who donated his new heart other than that it was a young man, as the family of the donor wished to remain anonymous. Isabel (who, like amateur sleuths in general, tends to get involved even when others tell her to leave it alone) does some research and comes up with an individual who died right before Ian’s heart surgery. Scotland being a small place, she figures this must be the donor. Since the young man was killed in a hit-and-run accident, she fears that the man Ian has been envisioning may have been the donor’s killer. She believes that the mystery of the circumstances surrounding the donor’s death must be solved so that Ian can get on with his life.
Isabel has another mystery to solve as well. When Cat returned from Italy she brought with her an Italian lothario named Tomasso, a man much closer to Isabel’s age than Cat’s. As a rule, Isabel doesn’t trust lotharios, but she finds herself attracted to Tomasso. Although he came back from Italy with Cat, Cat isn’t interested in him except as a friend. Isabel sets out to learn more about Tomasso, including the real reason he came to Scotland.
In general, this book was pretty good. The ending, however, was something of a letdown. Still, I enjoyed it enough so that I may check out this author’s other books.