Summary and book reviews of The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom

The Bad Book Affair

A Mobile Library Mystery

By Ian Sansom

The Bad Book Affair
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  • Paperback: Jan 2010,
    368 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Book Summary

Israel Armstrong—the hapless duffle coat wearing, navel-gazing librarian who solves crimes and domestic problems whilst driving a mobile library around the north coast of Ireland—finds himself on the brink of thirty. But any celebration, planned or otherwise, must be put on hold when a troubled teenager—the daughter of a local politician—mysteriously vanishes. Israel suspects the girl's disappearance has something to do with his lending her American Pastoral from the library's special "Unshelved" category. Now he has to find the lost teen before he's run out of town—while he attempts to recover from his recent breakup with his girlfriend, Gloria, and tries to figure out where in Tumdrum a Jewish vegetarian might celebrate his thirtieth birthday.

Excerpt
The Bad Book Affair

Here we are, then,” said George, opening the creaking, paint-flaking, hinge-rusted, wood-rotting brace-and-ledge door to the former chicken coop that was now home to Israel Armstrong (BA, (Hons.)), certainly Tumdrum’s and possibly Ireland’s only English Jewish vegetarian mobile librarian.

“The king of Siam,” said Ted, striding in. “Let’s have a look at him, then.”

Israel lay on his metal-framed bed in the middle of the room, dirty quilt pulled up around him, broken-backed books everywhere, empty bottles of wine and Jumping Jack cider stacked around like giddy sentinels. A row of broad shouldered peanut butter jars stood lined up on top of the rickety shelves next to the bed, staring down disapprovingly at the squalor below.

Israel raised his head wearily and dismissively from his book as George and Ted entered.

“Quite a sight, eh?” said George.

“Ach, for goodness’ sake,&#...

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Reviews

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Mr. Sansom's fourth in the Mobile Library Series is a 3-D book. No, it is not a pop-up book. Nor is it so described because the characters and their small town in Northern Ireland come forward fully formed like Venus from the sea, although that is certainly part of it. It's because in addition to depth and definitude, Sansom adds a third dimension: daftness. Daftness is such a rarified dimension, a stratum where only the immensely gifted can survive. Here is where Sansom thrives. The characters, the plot, the town of Tumdrum are daft indeed. But it's a smart, snappy, literate daftness that reveals insights into the scope of life... I laughed longer and harder at Sansom's incisive and intelligent wit than I have since, perhaps, reading Catch 22. I enjoyed it so much that upon completion of this book I immediately read its three pre-quels.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Never mind the thin plot and minimal detection. Sansom uses the naïve Israel to poke fun at politics, religion, prejudice, and pretensions of all sorts.

Kirkus Reviews

Whither the mystery? one might ask. But that would be churlish in light of all the rollicking wit from satirist Sansom.

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Beyond the Book

Ian Sansom on Libraries, Writing, and Flapjacks
On his website Ian Sansom speaks about the role libraries have played in his life:

"Libraries are places where you go to invent and reinvent yourself, or maybe just to use the toilet, if they have toilet facilities, and to find out how other people have reinvented themselves, and what they've written on the walls, and the desks, and in the books; they're a wonderful hiding place, but also a way back out into the world. The whole point of a library is that you don't have to buy the books you read. You don't have to undergo the agony of going into bookshops, those brightly-lit half-houses of the soul, and shelling out your hard-earned cash for something that in all likelihood is only going to be ...

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