Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom

My mom was visiting recently and one of our excursions was walking the grounds at The Huntington. Afterwards, at the wonderful gift shop on the grounds, she purchased for me a Book Lover’s Page-A-Day Calendar with a book-a-day. Well, this was immediately an issue. Before even leaving the Huntington I found three books I just had to purchase, so we drove to Vroman’s afterwards. I’m trying to refrain from looking at this calendar, but it is difficult. This book, the first in the Mobile Library Mystery series, was discovered during that initial browsing.

When I read in the Book Lover’s Calendar that the character in the series, Israel Armstrong, is a Jewish vegetarian librarian transplanted in Northern Ireland from London, I could not resist. In this book, Israel shows up for his new librarian job in Ireland to be informed that the physical library is closed and his job has changed to driving a rusty bookmobile into remote and not entirely desirable locations. We see Israel longing for his former world of bagels, cappuccinos, and sophisticated surroundings. The mystery begins when he discovers all 15,000 books, the bookmobile’s entire collection, are missing.

Is this book great literature? Definitely, no. Is it entertaining? Definitely, yes. Would I have read it if the main character was not a vegetarian librarian? No way. Do I recommend it? Only if you like humorous mysteries and the books and libraries aspect appeals to you. Will I be reading others in the series? Yes. In fact, I’ve already purchased books two and three. Still, I have to point out some unfortunate things…

  1. Why does Israel need to be such a bumbling fool with no common sense and social skills? This is an unfortunate stereotype for a librarian and one I was disappointed about, but can live with. Maybe he will change later in the series?
  2. How can it be explained that Israel, a vegetarian for ethical reasons, is shown having disregard for a poor dog in one scene and ambivalence to a chicken in another? Shouldn’t this be the opposite?
  3. Finally, why is Israel, who we are told has been a vegetarian for most of his adult life, depicted as nearly drooling over meat being served? Come on!

That sums up my thoughts on this one.


At 16.12.08 , Blogger Jeane said...

That last point you made is an inconsistency I think I'd find hard to ignore.

At 16.12.08 , Blogger Barry said...


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I hope you don't mind but I'm adding my press release to this comment. Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.





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AEG Publishing Group, Inc.
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At 17.12.08 , Blogger stacy said...

To Jeane-

I completely understand! I think the only reason I am willing to continue on with the series, at least for now, is because of the librarian element. I wonder what other librarians think about this main character though.



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