Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Perils of Morning Coffee (Isabel Dalhousie #8.5), by Alexander McCall Smith

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, ISBN 9780307907516, October 2011
This is an Isabel Dalhousie short story, centered around the mystery entangled with a philosophical dilemma that she encounters. Her husband Jamie and son Charlie are present, as are friend/housekeeper/babysitter Grace, and the handsome Brother Fox. (For those who don't know, an actual fox, who frequents Isabel's garden with her blessing.)

The core of this story begins with an accidental email invitation to coffee one morning that week, with two philosophy professors at a nearby university. Isabel hasn't met either of them, but she does know some of the work of at least one of them. She assumes they're interested in her journal, Review of Applied Ethics. She replies, accepting, then is very apologetically informed by the apparent inviter, Prof. George MacLeod, of the misfire of the software he uses to manage invitations and meetings. They wind up agreeing to meet anyway, only the two of them because the other professor isn't available, at a coffee house they both like.

When Jamie warns her it's potentially risky to meet a stranger, even in public, she dismisses his concern. As is often true, Jamie isn't necessarily wrong.

The meeting goes well, and they agree that Isabel will ask him to do some reviews for her journal.

Later, MacLeod's wife, Roz, calls her and accuses her of being George's lover. Roz is hostile and borderline threatening. Isabel is offended and outraged.

What is she going to do about it?

What follows is a puzzle and a dilemma. Isabel decides it would make sense to start by finding out if it's even likely that George is having an affair. Roz might just be paranoid about it. Since she really does know many people in academic philosophy in Edinburgh, she has a friend she can talk to who knows George and Roz.

Along the way, she makes some unexpected discoveries, while being kind to everyone even when she wants to run screaming in the other direction, which is, of course, the Isabel Dalhousie we know and love.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys the Isabel Dalhousie series.

I bought this short story.

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