Though she feels blessed by her niece Cat’s ex-lover and their baby, Isabel Dalhousie’s life is anything but settled in this fourth gently probing adventure (Espresso Tales, 2006, etc.).
Here's a sticky problem for the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics: How do you deal with the resentment of your closest relative when you and her castoff boyfriend have become lovers and had a son? And it's not the only problem Isabel has to face. For one thing, she’s about to get sacked. Prof. Christopher Dove, an ambitious London academic with no use for the likes of Isabel, has persuaded the board of editors to replace her with him. And it isn’t only her post at the journal that he has an eye on; when a chance meeting throws him together with Cat, it’s clearly mutual lust at first sight. Meantime, a less urgent but more complex problem has arisen with Isabel’s dawning certainty that a painting by Andrew McInnes, who drowned eight years ago, is a forgery. What should Isabel do? Her quandary is deepened by the fact that after outbidding her at auction for the painting, lawyer/collector Walter Buie has offered to sell it to her in indecent haste.
Emphasizing, as usual, ethical quiddities that most mysteries either ignore or take for granted, Smith produces another absorbing case in which Isabel doesn’t so much detect as interfere in a quietly masterful way more frivolous sleuths can only envy.