In this second novel in the Sunday Philosophy Club, Isabel Dalhousie’s niece, Cat (she of the unsuitable boyfriends) is invited to a wedding in Italy. This means that Isabel is left in charge of Cat’s delicatessen – a task to which the redoutable moral philosopher proves more than equal. She is intrigued by the customers, of course, given her irrepressible tendency to take an interest in the business of others, and one man in particular attracts her attention. He is recovering from heart surgery – a heart transplant in fact – and when Isabel gets to know him a bit better he reveals an extraordinary aspect of being the recipient of another’s heart. Isabel is drawn into an investigation of the facts behind the transplant, with disturbing results. Her enquiries take time, but not so much time as to prevent romantic entanglements, both for Isabel and her housekeeper, Grace. And as for chocolate – that proves to have some very interesting philosophical ramifications – at least in the mind of Isabel Dalhousie. Chocolate is a moral problem, it transpires – invoking questions of temptation and, of course, human weakness. We are all weak when it comes to chocolate, Isabel decides – should we just accept the fact and get on with it?
Alexander McCall Smith - The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds
As a mother, wife, employer and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, Isabel Dalhousie is aware that to be human is to be responsible. So when a neighbour brings her a new and potentially dangerous puzzle to solve, once again Isabel feels she has no option but to shoulder the burden. A masterpiece painting has been stolen from Duncan Munrowe, old-fashioned philanthropist, father to two discontented children, and a very wealthy man. As Isabel enters into negotiations with the shadowy figures who are in search of a ransom, a case where heroes and villains should be clearly defined turns murky: the list of those who desire the painting - or the money - lengthens, and hasty judgement must be avoided at all cost. Morals, it turns out, are like Scottish clouds: complex, changeable and tricky to get a firm grip on; they require a sharp observational eye, a philosophical mindset, and the habit of kindness. Fortunately for those around her, Isabel Dalhousie is in possession of all three.
Alexander McCall Smith - Love Over Scotland
The irresistible third entry to the 44 Scotland Street series picks up with the residents of 44 Scotland Street where Espresso Tales left off and is as addictive as any book McCall Smith has written. Anthropologist Domenica has flown off to the Straits of Malacca to study modern-day pirates. Back in Edinburgh, Pat moves from 44 Scotland Street and develops a crush on fellow art student Wolf, whose strange ways hint at a darker subplot that involves Pat's flatmate. Pat moves in with gallery owner Matthew, who struggles with both a sudden fortune and a yearning for Pat. Meanwhile, child prodigy saxophonist Bertie becomes a reluctant member of the Edinburgh Teenage Orchestra at age six and later, on a trip to Paris, finds himself wonderfully unsupervised. Poet/portrait painter Angus is tormented by the theft of his beloved dog Cyrus. The proceedings sparkle with McCall Smith's trademark wit (It was not always fun being a child, just as it had not always been fun being a medieval Scottish saint), proving once again, he's a true treasure. Illustrations by Iain McIntosh enliven the text.
Alexander McCall Smith - Bertie Plays the Blues
Even down to its well-set Georgian townhouses, Edinburgh is a hymn to measure and harmony. But on Scotland Street, domestic accord is in short supply. Matthew and Elspeth welcome three new arrivals, though the joys of multiple parenthood are somewhat lost due to sleep deprivation and the difficulties of telling their brood apart. Angus and Domenica are to marry, and Domenica has ambitious and disturbing plans for their living arrangements, especially when it appears that Antonia, in Italy recuperating from Stendhal Syndrome, may not return. And little Bertie, feeling blue, puts himself up for adoption on eBay. Can Edinburgh's most deliciously dysfunctional residents forsake discord and learn to dance to the same happy tune?
Alexander McCall Smith - 44 Scotland Street
The story revolves around the comings and goings at No. 44 Scotland Street, a fictitious building in a real street in Edinburgh. Immediately recognisable are the Edinburgh chartered surveyor, stalwart of the Conservative Association, who dreams of membership of Scotland's most exclusive golf club. We have the pushy Stockbridge mother, and her prodigiously talented five-year-old son, who is making good progress with the saxophone and with his Italian. Then there is Domenica Macdonald who is that type of Edinburgh lady who sees herself as a citizen of a broader intellectual world. In McCall Smith's hands such characters retain charm and novelty, simultaneously arousing both mirth and empathy. 44 Scotland Street is vintage McCall Smith, tackling issues of trust and honesty, snobbery and hypocrisy, love and loss, but all with great lightness of touch. Clever, elegant and funny, this is a novel that provides huge entertainment but which is underpinned by the moral dilemmas of everyday life and the characters' struggles to resolve them.
Iris Murdoch - The Black Prince
"The Black Prince" is both a remarkable thriller and a story about being in love. Bradley Pearson, narrator and hero, is an elderly writer with a 'block'. Finding himself surrounded by predatory friends and relations - his ex-wife, her delinquent brother, a younger, deplorably successful writer, Arnold Baffin, Baffin's restless wife and engaging daughter - Bradley attempts to escape. His failure to do so and its aftermath lead to a violent climax and a most unexpected conclusion.
Terry Pratchett - Wyrd Sisters
Terry Pratchett takes on Shakespeare in this sixth installment in the long-running parodic fantasy series set on the Discworld. Rigidly honorable, nasty-tempered witch Granny Weatherwax, who first appeared in EQUAL RITES, is back, joined by two other witches: matronly, raunchy Nanny Ogg and soppy, ineffective Magrat. This coven of three, aided by the ghost of the newly murdered king, must defend the tiny realm of Lancre and protect its rightful heir from the usurping Macbeth-like couple Duke and Duchess Felmet.
J. K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who’s parents have been killed in a ‘car crash’. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher’s Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?? The Author: This is Jo’s first book and she has already written seven outlines for Harry’s further adventures at Hogwarts. She lives in Edinburgh.
Ian Rankin - Doors Open
For the right man, all doors are open... Mike Mackenzie is a self-made man with too much time on his hands and a bit of the devil in his soul. He is looking for something to liven up the days and perhaps give new meaning to his existence. A chance encounter at an art auction offers him the opportunity to do just that as he settles on a plot to commit a 'perfect crime'. He intends to rip-off one of the most high-profile targets in the capital - the National Gallery of Scotland. So, together with two close friends from the art world, he devises a plan to a lift some of the most valuable artwork around. But of course, the real trick is to rob the place for all its worth whilst persuading the world that no crime was ever committed. But soon after he enters the dark waters of the criminal underworld he realises that it's very easy to drown...
Terry Pratchett - The Wee Free Men
There's trouble on the Aching farm - a monster in the river, a headless horseman in the driveway and nightmares spreading down from the hills. And now Tiffany Aching's little brother has been stolen by the Queen of the Fairies (although Tiffany doesn't think this is entirely a bad thing). Tiffany's got to get him back. To help her, she has a weapon (a frying pan), her granny's magic book (well, Diseases of the Sheep, actually) and - 'Crivens! Whut aboot us, ye daftie!' - oh, yes. She's also got the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men, the fightin', thievin', tiny blue-skinned pictsies who were thrown out of Fairyland for being Drunk and Disorderly . . . A wise, witty and wonderfully inventive adventure set in the Discworld.
Iain Pears - The Bernini Bust
British art historian Jonathan Argyll has just sold a minor Titian to an American museum for a highly inflated price. But as he complacently awaits his cheque in the Californian sunshine, trouble erupts: the museum's billionaire owner is murdered, a dubious art dealer disappears, and a Bernini bust, apparently smuggled out of Italy, is missing. Things could hardly be worse, and the situation calls for assistance from his friends General Bottando and Flavia di Stefano of the Italian National Art Theft Squad, especially as things do get worse - the killer's attention turns to Jonathan himself. Cleverly mixing murder with art, _The Bernini Bust_ is a witty and intriguing mystery from the bestselling author of _An Instance of the Fingerpost._
Terry Pratchett - Soul Music
"Other children got given xylophones. Susan just had to ask her grandfather to take his vest off." Yes. There's a Death in the family. It's hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe - especially when you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy. And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered the Discworld. It's Lawless. It changes people. It's called Music with Rocks In. It's got a beat and you can dance to it, but ... It's alive. And it won't fade away.
Terry Pratchett - Maskerade
The show must go on, as murder, music and mayhem run riot in the night... The Opera House, Ankh-Morpork... a huge, rambling building, where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by a strangely-familiar evil mastermind in a hideously-deformed evening dress... At least, he hopes so. But Granny Weatherwax, Discworld's most famous witch, is in the audience. And she doesn't hold with that sort of thing. So there's going to be trouble (but nevertheless a good evening's entertainment with murders you can really hum...)
Terry Pratchett - Small Gods
Terry Pratchett tackles a tough topic in the 13th satiric fantasy in the Discworld series: religious extremism. The land of Omnia is a repressive theocracy ruled by priests and inquisitors, who believe more in their own power than in the Great God Om. This is a somewhat difficult situation for Om, because his power is dependent on the faith of his worshippers. Only one person, the simple novice Brutha, truly believes in Om and is capable of hearing the voice of the god, who, incidentally, is currently trapped within the body of a small tortoise.
Terry Pratchett - Making Money
It's an offer you can't refuse. Who would not wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork's Royal Mint and the bank next door? It's a job for life. But, as former conman Moist von Lipwig is learning, life is not necessarily for long. The Chief Cashier is almost certainly a vampire. There's something nameless in the cellar (and the cellar itself is pretty nameless), and it turns out that the Royal Mint runs at a loss. A three-hundred-year-old wizard is after his girlfriend, he's about to be exposed as a fraud, but the Assassins' Guild might get to him first.. In fact, a lot of people want him dead. Oh. And every day he has to take the Chairman for walkies. Everywhere he looks he's making enemies. What he should be doing is... Making Money!
Terry Pratchett - Reaper Man
Death is missing - persumed... er... gone. Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn. Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There's a harvest to be gathered on...
Iris Murdoch - The Unicorn
When Marian Taylor takes a post as governess at Gaze Castle, a remote house upon a beautiful but desolate coast, she finds herself confronted with a number of weird mysteries and involved in a drama she only partly understands. Some crime or catastrophe in the past still keeps the house, like the castle of the Sleeping Beauty, under a spell, whose magic also touches the neighbouring house of Riders, inhabited by a scholarly recluse. Marian's employer, Hannah, and her retainers, seem to be acting out some tragic pattern: but it is not clear whether Hannah herself, the central figure, the Unicorn, is innocent victim or violent author, saint or witch... In a novel that has all the beauty of a fairy story and the melodrama of a Gothic tale, Murdoch explores the fantasies and ambiguities which beset those who are condemned to be passionately abandoned and yet hopelessly imperfect in their search for God.
Hugh Laurie - The Gun Seller
Thomas Lang is a James Bond for the 1990s, with the same ingredients, but brought bang up-to-date, and with much better jokes. Cold-blooded murder just isn't Thomas Lang's cup of tea. Offered a tidy sum to assassinate an American industrialist, he opts to warn the intended victim instead - a good deed that soon takes a bad turn. Quicker than he can down a shot of his favourite whiskey, Lang is bashing heads with a Buddha statue, matching wits with evil billionaires, and putting his life (among other things) in the hands of a bevy of femmes fatales. Up against rogue CIA agents, wanna-be terrorists, and an arms dealer looking to make a high-tech killing, Lang's out to save the leggy lady he has come to love - and prevent an international bloodbath to boot.
Terry Pratchett - Moving Pictures
The alchemists of the Discworld have discovered the magic of the silver screen. But what is the dark secret of Holy Wood hill? It's up to Victor Tugelbend ("Can't sing. Can't dance. Can handle a sword a little") and Theda Withel ("I come from a little town you've probably never heard of") to find out... Moving Pictures, the tenth Discworld novel, is a gloriously funny saga set against the background of a world gone mad!
Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code
Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call while on business in Paris: the elderly curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered inside the museum. Alongside the body, police have found a series of baffling codes. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, begin to sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to find a trail that leads to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci - and suggests the answer to a mystery that stretches deep into the vault of history. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine code and quickly assemble the pieces of the puzzle, a stunning historical truth will be lost forever...
Alexander McCall Smith - The Kalahari Typing School for Men
'The Kalaharl Typing School for Men' is the fourth novel in the widely acclaimed No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Following on from 'Morallty for Beautiful Girls' we find Precious Ramotswe, the founder of Botswana's only detective agency now running her business from the garage of her fiance, that most gracious of men, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni. Having recovered from his illness, Mr J.L.B. Matekoni is back at the helm of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and plans for the couple's wedding need to be made. But when, If ever, will they wed? Intriguing cases present themselves and Mma Ramotswe juggles new clients with her usual formidable talent, but things become unusually complicated when her first-class assistant Mma Makutsi decides to expand the agency by opening a much-needed typing school for men. Amongst her puplis Mma Makutsl finds an admirer, but Mma Ramotswe, knowing how men are, decides to dig deeper.