Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (Sunday Philosophy Club #9), by Alexander McCall Smith

Pantheon, ISBN 9780307907349, October 2012

Isabel and Jamie's son Charlie is now walking, talking, and attending nursery school. Grace the housekeeper is as devoted and as pig-headedly difficult as ever. Isabel's niece, Cat, is for once not involved in a disastrously inappropriate relationship.

And the mystery Isabel has been asked to apply her philosophical skills to is a real and genuine mystery, the theft of a valuable work of art, a smaller work by Nicholas Poussin, a leading French Baroque painter.

Duncan Munrowe is a wealthy art collector, and a single painting from his collection has been stolen during an open house at his country estate. It's a particularly treasured piece, and one he had planned to donate to an art museum. Because Isabel is known as a smart, helpful meddler woman, she is asked to help Munrowe work his way through the ransom demand and negotiation with the thieves. She's not sure what she can do, but, of course, she can't say no to someone asking for her help.

This is a pretty typical Isabel Dalhousie story, and if you've enjoyed the others you'll enjoy this one. This series isn't big on excitement; it's big on moral philosophizing and Isabel's personal relationships, with her household, her relatives, and her friends and acquaintances.

While Isabel is sorting out the mystery of the stolen painting, she's also struggling to sort out differences of opinion with Grace, about Charlie's education, and some interesting and potentially challenging developments in the life of Eddie, Cat's assistant at the delicatessen.

A gentle read, recommended if you've enjoyed previous books in the series.

I borrowed this book from the library.