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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Israel attempted to tot up his blessings in his mind, while Ted pulled onto the main coast road back into central Tumdrum.

“So, how many d’ye get?” said Ted.

“Two,” said Israel. He was alive, after all. And he wasn’t starving.

“Two?”

“Yes,” said Israel.

“That it?” said Ted. “Two?”

“Yes,” said Israel. “Alas.”

“Well, that’s better than one,” said Ted, “isn’t it. Sure, some people

have no hands.”

“What?” said Israel, watching the grim outer-lying estates flashing by.

“No hands,” repeated Ted, sticking his own arm out the window as they approached the first of Tumdrum’s many mini-roundabouts. “Must get that indicator fixed.”

“Some people have no hands?” said Israel.

“That’s right. I saw a program on the television the other week, about a fella with no legs.”

“No legs?”

“Aye. Makes ye think, doesn’t it? Come back to me when you’re in that sort of a position and start complainin’ and I might start listening to ye.”

“Right, OK. When I’ve lost my legs in some horrific—”

“Or yer arms.”

“Or my arms.”

“Aye. Get back to me then with yer troubles.”

“I will, Ted, most certainly get back to you when I have lost either my arms or my legs--”

“Or both.”

“Both.”

“And ye might get some sympathy then. In the meantime,” continued Ted, “turn the peat.”

“What?”

“It’s a saying.”

“Right.”

“And get a haircut and a shave as well while ye’re at it—that’ll cheer you up.”

“I don’t need cheering up, Ted.”

“You need a haircut and a shave, but.”

“All right, thank you. Let’s drop this whole conversation now, can we?”

“Well, I promised yer mother I’d look out for ye, and I don’t intend lettin’ her down.”

“I don’t need you keeping an eye on me, Ted, thank you.”

“Well, believe me, it’s the last thing I want to do either, but I told your mother I would, and I will. She’s a good woman, yer mother.”

“She doesn’t need to worry about me.”

“Of course she needs to worry about ye,” said Ted. “That’s what mothers are supposed to do.”

“Right.”

“You know what they say.”

“No. What?”

“You always meet your mother when you’re young.”

“Right,” said Israel. “Well, thank you, Martin Buber. Illuminating as ever.”

They were approaching the square, the downtown of Tumdrum.

“Ye probably just need a new challenge,” continued Ted.

“Probably,” agreed Israel.

“A hobby,” said Ted, “is what you need.”

“A hobby?”

“Aye. A choir or something.”

“A choir?”

“Or line dancing.”

“Line dancing?”

“Aye, or a jigsaw even.”

“A jigsaw?”

“Or walk a good brisk mile every morning. That’d cure you.”

“A jigsaw?” repeated Israel.

“Yes.”

“And a good brisk walk.”

“Aye.”

“I’m sure that’d do the trick, Ted. But can we talk about something else now, please?”

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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