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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith, winner of the first-ever Saga Award for Wit, has entertained millions with his beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mysteries. Now this phenomenally popular author introduces a fresh series, brimming with the charm and humor his stable of dedicated fans can't get enough of.

Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher by training, and an amateur sleuth by choice. When a young man falls from a balcony to his death, Isabel's curiosity is aroused. She does not believe the fall was an accident, and she is determined to root out the truth. With a little help from some friends (her housekeeper, her niece, and her niece's rather attractive ex-boyfriend), Isabel plunges into the shady business community of Edinburgh to find some answers.

With its distinctive characters and captivating suspense, The Sunday Philosophy Club further cements McCall Smith's status as one of today's most imaginative and enjoyable authors.

©2004 Alexander McCall Smith (P)2004 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"A world of kindness, gentility and creature comforts...the literary equivalent of herbal tea and a cozy fire." (The New York Times) "Utterly enchanting....It is impossible to come away from an Alexander McCall Smith 'mystery' novel without a smile on the lips and warm fuzzies in the heart." (Chicago Sun-Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 06-06-08

Not Number One Ladies Detective Agency!

This is a well-narrated, gentle tale told in very good prose but, if the SETTING of Number One Ladies Detective Agency is important to you as it is to me, you may not enjoy "The Sunday Philosophy Club" as much. The humourous obsevations on human nature are similar, however.

I thought I would like a tale of a Scottish academic/sleuth more since I love British literary "campus comedies," but I did not.

If you are tempted to try this series, though, then the audio format might be more pleasing than print due to the pleasant narration that suited the text very well.

As another reviewer said, this listen left a smile on my face, but for me, I'm not sure it was worth the time and download.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joanne
  • Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
  • 10-25-07

Wee bit of puzzlement

I have been thoughly enjoying Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies series; when suddenly I ran out of books. Decided to try The first in the Philosophy Club series. Again in the style of what I have seen of this author, far more a drama than a real mystery. More a wee bit of puzzlement than an edge of your seat who done it. However that said, I have found all Smiths' titles so far to have fabulous character development and a comfortably easy listening flow that keeps me wanting more. I very much enjoyed the narrator of this title - and if readers choose this audio for no other reason than that; I highly recomend this audio version over the hard copy!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Sunday Philosophy Club (Unabridged)

It was a delightful book and beautifully narrated. Isabel Dalhousie is a charming character and great observer of her environment; a younger Ms. Marple (Agatha Christie). As the editor of Applied Ethics, her character is always striving for the bigger questions than what appear to be at hand. The plot was carried down many avenues that all came together at the end.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Angie
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 03-21-06


I have recently finished the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series and I was looking forward to starting this series. Isabel Dalhausie is as charming and engaging a character as Mma. Ramotswe in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency books. This narrator has done such a good job creating specific and distinct characters with her voice. I love her accent and she adds so much to the story.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

What does he do now?

I read The Number One Ladies Detective Agency and I was hooked. I read the next and the next and the next. When I was browsing in a bookstore and came upon the last, The Full Cupboard of Life on audio CD, I bought it immediately. It was even released before the print version, which astonished the bookseller. It was a total treat. A fine end to the series. The narrator cemented all that came before. Her voice, her pronunciation, her narration was music. When I think back through all those books it's hard to distinguish one from another. They were all pretty much the same. It wasn't the plot of each that mattered. It was Mma Ramotswe, Mr. JLB Matakoni. It was all the characters, the new and the renewed. It was Botswana. It was the feeling of it all that mattered most, and I would read the next one if it is written. I was curious then, when I read that the next one was actually going to be a whole new, totally different series. The Sunday Philosophy Club. It's not Botswana. It's not the same feeling transposed in a new place. It's. It's. It's boring. Totally. Totally, totally boring. So what's he to do? If he pays attention to the reviews, he knows of his own success with Botswana. He also knows of his readers' response to this new series. Should he go on anyway? What would you do? Maybe go back to what worked? Or plod on for whatever reason? Such a quandary he must be in.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Danzer
  • Indianapolis
  • 10-17-04

Okay, but minor

I was disappointed in the mystery, and the attempt to meld it with philosophy didn't work for me. (For one thing, this Sunday Philosophy Club never meets that I can remember.) Every now and again the heroine stops and thinks about some ethical dilemma, but she comes to such quick conclusions that it's hard to think that the dilemmas were all that difficult. It's sort of like watching Dr. Phil-- I spent the whole book thinking, "Big deal... that's just common sense."

On the other hand, the reader has a lovely Scots accent. It was a joy to listen to her narrate, and then use other Scots accents for secondary characters. Even if the mystery itself is pretty lame, you can't go wrong with this reader-- wonderful voice and accent.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I'm in Love!

If you could sum up The Sunday Philosophy Club in three words, what would they be?

Three words?? Forget it. I'm completely hooked on the Isabel Dalhousie series. It really feels like being in love. And Davina Porter is heavenly. My only complaint is that the books are so short (only 8+ hours), I'm ready for the next one in the series long before I receive my next credit. And waiting with no Isabel Dalhousie to listen to is out of the question! So I'm racking up quite a tab. The things we do for love!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • DCinMI
  • Fairview, MI
  • 02-18-13

Advice For Prospective Listeners

I'm currently listening to book 5 in this series. I have loved them all and will be listening to the rest of them, as well. I originally thought they would be mysteries, but they're not really, although usually there is something odd going on that Isabel is trying to sort out. They remind me more of the 44 Scotland Street books, of which Audible does not have the complete series, so I had to find another. I'm glad I found this one.

The reason I decided to review this one is that, being the first book in the series, a new listener might look at these reviews first and I wanted to make a suggestion.

When I first started listening to these books, the picture of Isabel that formed in my mind was actually Maggie Smith, circa Harry Potter. I'm sure it was to do with the accent and Isabel's personality, combined with the roles I've seen Maggie Smith play. Ms. Smith is a wonderful actress and attractive, but she is much too old to be Isabel Dalhousie. This didn't matter so much in the beginning, but later in the series it does, and the image I've had all this time is hard for me to shake now.

So, in order to give some perspective to a new listener, I want to point out that Isabel is actually about the same age as, say, Jennifer Aniston. If you can picture Jennifer as a Scottish philosopher with an adult niece, you will be much closer to "reality" than I have been.

Other than that, the only advice I have is to relax and enjoy and prepare to be hooked.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • jeanne
  • WASHINGTON, DC, United States
  • 12-07-07

a pleasure!

adored it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Allison
  • Cary, IL, United States
  • 01-26-05

Such potential!

I was enjoying this book so much, but it's like the author simply got sick of writing it and totally phoned in the last quarter! It has such potential. It could have been a great plot. Isabelle could have been a good character, but...alas, overall, you're left totally...unsatisfied. Not worth it.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful