Excerpt from The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Bad Book Affair

A Mobile Library Mystery

by Ian Sansom

The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom
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    Jan 2010, 368 pages

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Donna Chavez

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“There’s no need to be worried about me, thank you,” said Israel.

“Good. Up and out yer stinking pit then. Lyin’ in bed like a cripple—”

“We don’t say ‘cripple’ these days, Ted.”

“Aye. Lying in like a woman—”

“You can’t say—”

“No wonder ye don’t know what end of you’s uppermost.”

“What?”

“Come on. Up and out, ye bedfast.”

“Ted. Sorry. No. I’m staying here.”

“Ye’re due in work, boy. Come on.”

“Ted. Look. I really can’t be bothered.”

“Can’t be bothered?”

“Yes.”

“Can’t be bothered to work?” said Ted, incredulous.

“That’s right.”

“If a man work not, then how shall he eat?”

“Yeah, all right, spare me the lecture,” said Israel.

“That’s not a lecture, ye fool, that’s the Bible. Now come on. Get yerself up and let’s go.”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m a child, Ted.”

“If you act like a child, then I’ll talk to ye like a child.”

“Well, I would appreciate it if you could just moderate your language and talk to me in a calm and rational fashion.”

“Calm and rational?” said Ted. “Calm and rational? What do you want me to say? ‘Please come back, Israel’? ‘We all miss you on the mobile library’?”

“Well, that might—” began Israel.

“Of course we don’t miss ye on the mobile library. Ye blinkin’ eejit. Ye’ve got a job to do. And you’re expected to do it, like anyone else. And don’t expect me to be covering for ye, because I’m not. Linda Wei’ll hear about this before ye know it, and ye’ll be out on yer ear.”

“So?” said Israel.

“So? I’ll tell ye what’s so. I’m stepping outside here for a smoke, and ye’ve got five minutes to get out of yer stinking bed before I lose my temper.”

Ted walked outside.

And Israel readjusted himself on the bed, pulling the quilt back up around him, plucking David Lean’s Great Expectations from out under the covers—he wondered where that had got to. He’d joined an online DVD postal delivery service, which was very good—unlimited DVDs, no late fee, twelve pounds per month, delivered to the door of the farm—and he’d been steadily working his way through the British Film Institute’s Top 100 films. The Third Man, Brief Encounter, The 39 Steps, Kes, The Red Shoes. Often he’d fall asleep in the coop to black-and-white images and then wake up in the morning to the sound of the shipping forecast on the

World Service. Alfred Hitchcock, Dirk Bogarde, “And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at 0520 today. There are warnings of gales in Rockall, Malin, Hebrides. The general synopsis: low Rockall 987, deepening rapidly, expected Fair Isle 964 by 0700 tomorrow.”

Sometimes he didn’t know where he was. Or what year it was. It was like he’d come adrift in his life.

He thought maybe he’d try ringing Gloria on his mobile again. He’d only rung a couple

of times so far today. She hadn’t answered the phone to him since he’d arrived back in Tumdrum.

Straight to voicemail.

He’d try again later.

He picked up Infinite Jest again. Laid it back down. Started flicking through a month-old Guardian.

Excerpted from The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom. Copyright © 2010 by Ian Sansom. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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