The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom


Cozy MysteryThe Case of the Missing Books The Case of the Missing BooksIan Sansom; Harper Paperbacks 2007WorldCatFinally! Israel Armstrong is an official librarian. He has been working in a London used bookstore since he finished school and hadn’t been able to find a librarian position. He’s a vegetarian Jew with a sort-of girlfriend, the youngest in his family, and has spent most of his life reading. Now he travels to the town of Tumdrum in Northern Ireland. He is their new librarian.

Except the first thing he discovers when he arrives is that the library building has been permanently closed. The local council has decided it is economically wiser to use the Mobile Library (the old Bookmobile) instead. Israel DOES NOT want to be the librarian on a bookmobile. It turns out he isn’t. Now he’s the Outreach Support Officer. But his contract has him pretty well stuck. He is not able to face down his new boss on the Council. Instead he finds himself seeking out the prior driver of the book van that has been parked for several years (it was stolen to keep it from being sold back then). After Tom, the driver, has shown off the dilapidated vehicle, Israel is taken to his lodgings. His room had been a chicken coop before he moved in.

He doesn’t understand the locals and they don’t understand him. They keep barrelling right past Israel so he doesn’t know what happened until it’s too late. When he and Tom take the Mobile Library to the old library building, they discover all 15,000 or so books are missing. Someone took them. His boss doesn’t want the news to get out – how would the Council look? He’s the librarian. He has to find the books. Israel’s life turns from inept to farcical as he tries to find the missing books and learn a little bit about these strange inhabitants of Northern Ireland. Then, maybe, he can return to his comfortable London and forget the weird interlude in his life. Who really wants to be a librarian, anyway?

Murphy must rule Israel Armstrong’s life. His Law is everywhere (was Murphy Irish?). Israel’s luggage and credit cards are immediately lost. He has to wander around in borrowed slang tshirts and camouflage pants. Israel says something out of culture ignorance and offends people. Everyone around him insists of serving him meat dishes. If he isn’t Protestant, he must be Catholic – those appear to be his only two religious choices even if he is Jewish.

Ian Sansom put his tongue firmly in his cheek when he wrote The Case of the Missing Books. Yes, this novel is a mystery of sorts. The books really are missing and someone must have stolen them. This novel is all the humor that can be found in being an inept stranger in a strange land where the locals will roll right over you if you aren’t careful. At times Sansom goes over the top – the masking tape on the glasses is a bit too much. While this wasn’t a quick read for me, it is an easy read. When it would make a fool of Israel one too many times, I would put it down because I wasn’t appreciating it.

The Case of the Missing Books is a light read for escapism. There is a light at the end of Israel’s tunnel. But will he find the missing library books?

Mobile Library series at Stop! You’re Killing Me!
More books by Ian Sansom

Link to BooksLink to BetterWorld Books

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