Gently starchy Edinburgh ethicist Isabel Dalhousie (The Sunday Philosophy Club, 2004) slips into another sedate but vexing mystery.
To accommodate her niece Cat, who’s been invited to a wedding in Italy, Isabel agrees to supplement her part-time duties as general editor of the Review of Applied Ethics by working for a week in Cat’s delicatessen. It’s there that she meets Ian, a psychologist who’s avoiding chocolate because the doctors tell him it’s bad for the heart he recently received from an unknown donor. Ian soon confides that he has more serious troubles than the ban on chocolate. He’s been having disturbing visions of an unfamiliar face—a face he suspects his new heart remembers. Quietly inserting herself into his nightmares, Isabel tracks down the likely donor’s mother, Rose Macleod, and instantly recognizes in her partner, Graeme Forbes, the face that’s been haunting Ian. Is it coincidence, cellular memory or something darker? While she’s wondering what to do about her unwelcome discovery, Isabel faces a dilemma considerably closer to home: the possible loss of Cat’s ex-boyfriend Jamie, a bassoonist who’s become perhaps Isabel’s best friend. Both problems edge toward solutions as gradually and believably as Isabel first slid into the problems. The dénouement is pure magic.
Beneath the slender mystery is a celebration of Isabel’s fallible but resolutely ethical approach to life, charming and light but with a refreshingly unapologetic gravitas.