I found Isabel a slightly difficult character to warm to. A single woman in her early forties, she has inherited a large amount of money from her mother, enough to allow her to hire a housekeeper (Grace) and work only part-time for a tiny amount as the editor of the philosophical Review of Applied Ethics. She spends a lot of time taking long lunches and walking about Edinburgh inbetween editing a few essays for an hour or so. When you are having to read inbetween working full time this tends to cause jealousy :) I felt jealous of her beautiful niece Cat too, who is also wealthy and has been able to afford to buy her own flat and delicatessen. Having said that, I really enjoyed reading the books and laughing at Cat's slimy boyfriends.
My favourite character was Grace the housekeeper, who is fiercely loyal to Isabel and also full of firm opinions - "Grace had gone, but had left a note on the kitchen table. Somebody phoned. He did not say who he was. I told him you were asleep. He said that he would phone again. I did not like the sound of him."
Isabel has a very active and lurid imagination, coming up with all sorts of scenarios to explain the behaviour of the people around her, such as cover-up murders, golddigging, infidelity or organised crime. Some of these turn out to be right, and others are not. The plots are often wildly unlikely, but as Isabel muses to her cousin Mimi - "'Novels have nothing to do with real life?' 'Very little,' said Mimi. 'And that's what makes them such fun.'"
Someone at a book group I went to suggested that Kate Mosse has an American character in her novel Sepulchre purely for commercial reasons, as an American audience may prefer to buy books with American characters. I don't know whether this is true or not. Could this be why McCall Smith has given Isabel Dalhousie American connections, is pressure put on authors to do so? I don't like to think of books as written like that, but realistically maybe they are.