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The Case of the Missing Books

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Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he has in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming--but where are the books? Th Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he has in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming--but where are the books? The rolling library's 15,000 volumes have mysteriously gone missing, and it's up to Israel to discover who would steal them...and why. And perhaps, after that, he will tackle other bizarre and perplexing local mysteries--like, where does one go to find a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper?


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Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he has in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming--but where are the books? Th Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he has in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming--but where are the books? The rolling library's 15,000 volumes have mysteriously gone missing, and it's up to Israel to discover who would steal them...and why. And perhaps, after that, he will tackle other bizarre and perplexing local mysteries--like, where does one go to find a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper?

30 review for The Case of the Missing Books

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    It was obvious from when I ordered this book that it would not be your average mystery: young Jewish (half Irish) man arrives from joblessness in London to a small town in Ireland - Tumdrum - in the expectation of taking up a post as the new town librarian. After a hellish trip, which turns out to be fairly typical of his luck, he discovers that funding has been cut, the library will be sold and razed, and his new job is to be driving the mobile library replacing the brick and mortar stationary It was obvious from when I ordered this book that it would not be your average mystery: young Jewish (half Irish) man arrives from joblessness in London to a small town in Ireland - Tumdrum - in the expectation of taking up a post as the new town librarian. After a hellish trip, which turns out to be fairly typical of his luck, he discovers that funding has been cut, the library will be sold and razed, and his new job is to be driving the mobile library replacing the brick and mortar stationary library. Which is going to be a problem: Israel can drive, but not well, and not necessarily a bus. This isn't so much a mystery, as billed, as it is a fish-out-of-water - or fish among fowl - story. The mystery is not the sort usually featured in adult books of the genre, but more of a Nancy Drew (or Hardy Boys) (or Scooby Doo) type: in other words, no one is murdered. I would actually be a lot more comfortable calling this a cozy mystery than most stories involving murder ... but it's not cozy. The setting, the characters, the tone of the writing: not cozy. And ... not a mystery, very much. The aim of the book is to show us Israel Armstrong plopped down in a hostile-to-him environment, and how (whether) he copes. (Also, I figured it out about 150 pages before Israel did, and this isn't as much fun as it ought to be.) There is much to like in the book: Israel's initial flailings at working his way into the job and the village are funny, and he is not entirely unsympathetic. No one who becomes a librarian in order to have access to free books can be entirely unsympathetic. There is a mystery in there, and it's interesting. Some of the other characterizations are fun to read. And the description of the (doomed) library is heavenly. But ... Israel's not very likeable. He's a wimp, a bit hypochondriacal, has no social skills, doesn't know how to say either no or yes (or please), and rubs very nearly everyone the wrong way almost instantly: he's the perfect schlemiel. This should inspire sympathy, the schlemielness, but he's also a shlimazel (thank you, Laverne & Shirley). If there seemed to be any hope that he might find his footing and improve I - and the townsfolk - might like him better, but there doesn't. All he wants from the moment he hits Irish soil is to go home, and between that and the wall of events that prevents him from leaving he is ineffectually miserable – which I just didn't find fun, or funny, to read. Some of the other characters in the book are just over-the-top unpleasant, as well. I like Ted, a lot, though the first impression there was not good. But even he took against Israel, and it grows old when almost every single person feels, at best, contempt for the poor schlub. If you start out liking Israel, after a while you feel like you must be missing something, he's so, otherwise, universally (except for Brownie) disliked. And the narrator gives every indication of having been to Ireland under duress and hating it, prompting him now to try to burst every Emerald Isle Auld Sod blarnified bubble the reader might harbor. Neither the place nor the populace is welcoming. And then there's Linda ... I keep feeling like her every scene should offend me, and I'm not sure if that's a latent feminism or a horror of racial prejudice or something else entirely, or a combination ... I think it's partly the feeling that an impartial narrator shouldn't dislike a character so much. The descriptions are so repetitively specific that she's Asian, or fat (and constantly eating, and maybe that's where the offensiveness lies), or both, that it's not so much Linda I don't like as the narrator. That's not a comfortable situation for what presents itself as something of a cozy mystery. This wasn't to my taste, and I doubt I'll pursue the rest of the series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Connie G

    Israel Armstrong traveled to Northern Ireland to start a new job as a librarian. When he reaches the library, he finds that his job description has changed. He now has to drive a mobile library around some of the small villages of County Antrim. But the books have disappeared! This is a light book with lots of slapstick humor. Nothing goes right for Israel--he's the guy who breaks his eyeglasses, steps in manure, and has his pants burn while drying by the stove. It wasn't the right book for me, b Israel Armstrong traveled to Northern Ireland to start a new job as a librarian. When he reaches the library, he finds that his job description has changed. He now has to drive a mobile library around some of the small villages of County Antrim. But the books have disappeared! This is a light book with lots of slapstick humor. Nothing goes right for Israel--he's the guy who breaks his eyeglasses, steps in manure, and has his pants burn while drying by the stove. It wasn't the right book for me, but it's a quick "beach read" for someone who enjoys that type of humor.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    I did not like this book. It’s a fish-out-of-water tale where Israel Armstrong moves from London to northern Ireland to be a librarian. As are many small communities, Israel has a rough transition that is exacerbated by almost every member of the community. He’s so hapless that his continual misfortunes don’t garner an abundance of sympathy. I did not find a single character in this book likable. He also must solve the mystery of the missing library books which goes just as badly as his transitio I did not like this book. It’s a fish-out-of-water tale where Israel Armstrong moves from London to northern Ireland to be a librarian. As are many small communities, Israel has a rough transition that is exacerbated by almost every member of the community. He’s so hapless that his continual misfortunes don’t garner an abundance of sympathy. I did not find a single character in this book likable. He also must solve the mystery of the missing library books which goes just as badly as his transition to his life in northern Ireland. If I’m reading a mystery, I wanted the character to do something other than make a royal ass of himself at every turn. Calling this a ‘mystery novel’ requires a great stretch of the imagination. I could see several instances where some people might appreciate this. There are plenty of instances of schadenfreude and subtle yet rambling humor. I’d also imagine they appeal to someone with a British sense of humor. However, hard as I tried, I did not like this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This is a charmer. This is the story of a vegetarian librarian from London who finds himself in rural Ireland running a run down bookmobile with no books. Israel Atmstrong, the librarian, is a composite of Walter Mitty, Inspector Clouseau and a bit of Ignatius Reilly. The people in the village would also be right at home in Twin Peaks. How can anyone resist this? The joy in this read is the richness of the characters coupled with wonderful writing of Ian Sansom. I have read some criticism that i This is a charmer. This is the story of a vegetarian librarian from London who finds himself in rural Ireland running a run down bookmobile with no books. Israel Atmstrong, the librarian, is a composite of Walter Mitty, Inspector Clouseau and a bit of Ignatius Reilly. The people in the village would also be right at home in Twin Peaks. How can anyone resist this? The joy in this read is the richness of the characters coupled with wonderful writing of Ian Sansom. I have read some criticism that it isn't a very good mystery. Well, look at the title again. "The Case of The Missing Books", it is not meant to be a serious page turning mystry. Not even Nancy Drew or the Bobbsey Twins came up with that one. Lighten up! This little masterpiece is funny, sweet, and absolutelly delightful!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary Tuley

    I know I should've loved this book, but I really didn't -- probably because it's rougher and grimmer than I could enjoy right now. However, I still think it deserves four or five stars, for all the open-minded readers who WILL enjoy it. Besides, the main premise -- that the new librarian has to go search for the library's books, all of which have been misplaced -- gets automatic points for originality and fun.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    "Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he had in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming -- but where are the books? The rolling library's 15,000 volumes have mysteriously gone missing, and it's up to Israel to discover who would steal them "Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he had in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming -- but where are the books? The rolling library's 15,000 volumes have mysteriously gone missing, and it's up to Israel to discover who would steal them ... and why. And perhaps, after that, he will tackle other bizarre and perplexing local mysteries -- like, where does one go to find a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper?" ~~back cover I disagree so vehemently with that description! Our Israel is NOT a passionate soul -- he's a wet, useless twit beset upon by daft, rude, conniving buggers, treated abominably and set up to be the scapegoat in some sort of fraudulent scheme by the town council. The town is certainly small and damp, but the scenery is not lovely and the people are certainly not charming: after all, he's billeted in a chicken coop that still occupied by the original inhabitants, and humiliated when he tries to complain about it. His clothes are destroyed, along with his credit cards -- leaving him without a cent to be going on with. (And the daft prat doesn't even manage to get the credit cards replaced, leaving him unable to replace his trousers, which were destroyed on the Rayburn. And he couldn't buy a cappuccino if he could find one.) His erstwhile girl friend back in London has obviously decided to curtail the proceedings as she's either gone when he calls or else cuts the conversation painfully short. He keeps on calling, obviously recapitulating the great Richard Thompson song "I thought she was saying good luck -- she was saying goodbye." I could go on, but you get the picture. This is not a genre I've ever enjoyed, and I wouldn't have gathered up the series had I known what I was getting into. I started the second book, and just couldn't stick it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    Israel Armstrong, a half-Jewish, half-Irish slacker is hired by the local council of Tumdrum, a small town in Northern Ireland, to be the librarian for a newly-instituted mobile library. There's only one small problem (aside from the fact that Israel hates everyone in and everything about Tumdrum): the library's entire collection of books is missing and Israel is expected to find it. Our hero becomes an unlikely gumshoe, determined to trace his missing collection and in the process discovers tha Israel Armstrong, a half-Jewish, half-Irish slacker is hired by the local council of Tumdrum, a small town in Northern Ireland, to be the librarian for a newly-instituted mobile library. There's only one small problem (aside from the fact that Israel hates everyone in and everything about Tumdrum): the library's entire collection of books is missing and Israel is expected to find it. Our hero becomes an unlikely gumshoe, determined to trace his missing collection and in the process discovers that Tumdrum isn't the worst place in the universe after all. The Case of the Missing Books is great fun and I look forward to reading more novels by Ian Sansom.

  8. 5 out of 5

    adlin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is one of the worst books I've read. There is not one redeeming character, including the main character. The description said "Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town." Ummm.. yeah, he does, and in a very whiny way. However, given the people who dwell in the town and the treatment he's received, I would probably be whiny as well. Some may find this character somewhat comic, I'm finding him sad and pathetic. I man This is one of the worst books I've read. There is not one redeeming character, including the main character. The description said "Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town." Ummm.. yeah, he does, and in a very whiny way. However, given the people who dwell in the town and the treatment he's received, I would probably be whiny as well. Some may find this character somewhat comic, I'm finding him sad and pathetic. I managed to finish this book, but the characters did not improve. Not one person was kind to Israel. His living situation was terrible and so far below what a reasonable person would expect that I wondered not only why anyone would offer this but why he didn't go look for better accommodations. To add insult to injury, he didn't solve the mystery! Oh, it got solved alright, but the ending was a complete let down.

  9. 5 out of 5

    BJ Rose

    Israel Armstrong is an overweight vegetarian Englishman with a Jewish mother and an Irish father who takes the job of librarian in a Northern Ireland village. A few problems erupt immediately, however. The library is closed permanently, the Mobile Library he's supposed to use is an empty, rusty van, AND all the books are missing! And the craziness begins. I do not enjoy slapstick comedy, and I'm sure I would not like a movie version of this book. But I think that the reason this works in book for Israel Armstrong is an overweight vegetarian Englishman with a Jewish mother and an Irish father who takes the job of librarian in a Northern Ireland village. A few problems erupt immediately, however. The library is closed permanently, the Mobile Library he's supposed to use is an empty, rusty van, AND all the books are missing! And the craziness begins. I do not enjoy slapstick comedy, and I'm sure I would not like a movie version of this book. But I think that the reason this works in book form is that Israel is a foil for the machinations of all the minor characters - and there are quite a number of those. In fact, the villagers are the real strength of this strange cozy-mystery. The locals 'tested' Israel at every turn - when he asked for directions to Ballymuckery they sent him through Ballygullable, and of course he was gullible enough to fall for it. What really happened to the books?! Guess you'll have to read it to find out.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    First, I have to thank Bonnie for her review of book 4 in this series: I'd never heard of Ian Sansom and the Mobile Library Mysteries before, but her great review made me want to read them. I loved every minute of reading this book. I don't have one of those dainty, giggly-girl laughs, I have an embarrassingly loud, guffaw-type of laugh, and let me tell you, I've embarrassed myself in the lunchroom, the doctor's waiting room, and woken up my husband laughing out loud at this book. The dialog is First, I have to thank Bonnie for her review of book 4 in this series: I'd never heard of Ian Sansom and the Mobile Library Mysteries before, but her great review made me want to read them. I loved every minute of reading this book. I don't have one of those dainty, giggly-girl laughs, I have an embarrassingly loud, guffaw-type of laugh, and let me tell you, I've embarrassed myself in the lunchroom, the doctor's waiting room, and woken up my husband laughing out loud at this book. The dialog is absolutely brilliant, and Sansom's writing is so very clever. I can't remember when I've ever enjoyed a book more, and I've already started the 2nd in the series. I'm just sad that there are only 3 in the series: I need to savor these.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    this was a charity shop find, and I'm glad I brought it home, full of funny characters, in situations that were perfectly believable (well, possibly not the books, but the way new people are treated in a small village) I particualrly enjoyed the character of TEd, off to look for more now!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Turner

    DNF I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't. A cast of unlikeable characters, inane dialogue and a little too much slapstick. At times I was reminded of the Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First." Disappointing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Landis

    The story was funny. Started off a little slow but got better as you got further into the story. Kind of a different idea.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    So much more could have been done with this plot the slight humor could not make up for for the missing substance. When a protagonist is as supercilious as this one, its not possible for this reader to triumph along. Perhaps a reader more versed in detective style would appreciate the references and innuendoes that fell flat for me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This book was . . . I don't know how to describe it. I'm at a loss. It took me far too long to read (almost a week!) and, apart from some of the dialogue, just moved at too slow of a pace. But I slogged my way through it. . . . . . only to be let down in the end! The mystery of the missing books solved itself, with no help from Israel. So after all of his bumbling, he never did find the books or figure out who stole them ((view spoiler)[until the books "magically" appeared in his Mobile Library v This book was . . . I don't know how to describe it. I'm at a loss. It took me far too long to read (almost a week!) and, apart from some of the dialogue, just moved at too slow of a pace. But I slogged my way through it. . . . . . only to be let down in the end! The mystery of the missing books solved itself, with no help from Israel. So after all of his bumbling, he never did find the books or figure out who stole them ((view spoiler)[until the books "magically" appeared in his Mobile Library van and the perpetrators identified themselves (hide spoiler)] *grrr*). So I was pretty disappointed. In the end, Israel was (view spoiler)[free to return to his life in London, but instead, after driving around all night, he finds a schedule for the Mobile Library's stops, with his name down as the Mobile Librarian. So I guess he'll be staying in Tumdrum, Ireland? (hide spoiler)] I don't know and I don't much care. I will not be reading more of this series. Israel was too weak-willed for me to want to read more of his adventures with the Mobile Library. And for all that he's a reader and a librarian, he wasn't too bright. :-( There is definitely room for growth, but I just don't care enough to read more to see if he will grow. I'm glad to be done with this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    This mystery involves the theft of 15,000 books from the library that the Irish village council had closed, due to lack of funds. This hilarious story features Israel Armstrong, the Irish Jew (who was brought up and living in London), and who has the misfortune to be hired to be the librarian for this village. Since the building has been closed, he will be in charge of the bookmobile instead, a rusted out bus with no shelves and no books! What is more, he and the bookmobile driver, Ted, discover This mystery involves the theft of 15,000 books from the library that the Irish village council had closed, due to lack of funds. This hilarious story features Israel Armstrong, the Irish Jew (who was brought up and living in London), and who has the misfortune to be hired to be the librarian for this village. Since the building has been closed, he will be in charge of the bookmobile instead, a rusted out bus with no shelves and no books! What is more, he and the bookmobile driver, Ted, discover that all the books that were supposed to be in the closed library building have all gone missing. And Israel, although brand new to the area, is tasked with the job of getting them all back. All kinds of silliness abounds, such as Israel being put up in a chicken coop; and this vegetarian being confronted with meat on every front. This is the first of a four book series, which I plan to continue reading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A light, fun read that's not really a mystery, more a fish-out-of-water story. London librarian Israel Armstrong, a schlubby Jewish vegetarian, accepts a post in rugged, rural Tumdrum, Northern Ireland, only to find when he arrives that the library has been closed and he'll have to run the mobile library (aka Bookmobile). Oh, and his lodgings are in a converted chicken coop However, there's a snag, which one can guess from the title of the book: All the library books are missing. Friendless, cash A light, fun read that's not really a mystery, more a fish-out-of-water story. London librarian Israel Armstrong, a schlubby Jewish vegetarian, accepts a post in rugged, rural Tumdrum, Northern Ireland, only to find when he arrives that the library has been closed and he'll have to run the mobile library (aka Bookmobile). Oh, and his lodgings are in a converted chicken coop However, there's a snag, which one can guess from the title of the book: All the library books are missing. Friendless, cashless and largely clueless, Israel has to get to the bottom of the puzzler while trying not to further alienate the quirky villagers. Of course it all ends up fine, and there are more books in the series, so we know he stays in Tumdrum. The book is laugh-out-loud funny in spots and chuckle-to-oneself droll in many others, and generally enjoyable, if a bit predictable. I'll be reading the next one to find out what happens next in Tumdrum!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richa Bhattarai

    I abhorred this book and even though I rarely leave books midway I just wanted to, after around 30 pages. For it promised to be funny and mysterious but only seemed dank and gloomy and pitiful. But then suddenly it started growing on me. And even though it didn't warm my cockles and left me disappointed at the end, I have to grudgingly admit that it is quite hilarious. It takes a skilled writer to write so well. A little bit of PG Wodehouse, a little Dickensian humor. Once I got into the heart o I abhorred this book and even though I rarely leave books midway I just wanted to, after around 30 pages. For it promised to be funny and mysterious but only seemed dank and gloomy and pitiful. But then suddenly it started growing on me. And even though it didn't warm my cockles and left me disappointed at the end, I have to grudgingly admit that it is quite hilarious. It takes a skilled writer to write so well. A little bit of PG Wodehouse, a little Dickensian humor. Once I got into the heart of it I enjoyed it a lot. But the plot is thin and stretched wide and the characters are terrible (even though it's intended).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan Emmet

    If Israel Armstrong got clonked once more, I think I would have thrown this mystery out the window. The broken nose was enough after all his "pratfalls." I found humor quite often in dialog and event, but thought the plot wore thin despite some quite memorable characters. Some less than sly commentary on anti-Semitism, government overreach and lying, bureaucratic idiocy and laziness. Not a horrible book. Just not sterling.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    2 stars, but rounding up because this is set in County Antrim!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Khris Sellin

    Silly but fun vacation week read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I loved this book although I realize that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. Israel Armstrong is a librarian--well, he has his degree and has worked in several short-term situations--who is willing to relocate from London to Tumdrum, a small town in Northern Ireland, in order to finally have a job in a full-time position. Israel is around 30 and is a Jewish vegetarian who arrives in Tumdrum to find the library closed and all of the books missing. In fact, his new supervisor, Linda Wei (Northern I loved this book although I realize that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. Israel Armstrong is a librarian--well, he has his degree and has worked in several short-term situations--who is willing to relocate from London to Tumdrum, a small town in Northern Ireland, in order to finally have a job in a full-time position. Israel is around 30 and is a Jewish vegetarian who arrives in Tumdrum to find the library closed and all of the books missing. In fact, his new supervisor, Linda Wei (Northern Irish-Chinese Catholic) who is the Deputy Head of Entertainment, Leisure, and Community Services and who is never seen with a can of Pringles and a Diet Coke near at hand, informs him that his new job is driving the bookmobile. When Israel threatens to quit, she presents the fine print of his contract compelling him to stay for at least a short period of time. Here's the problem--in order to fulfill his contract, Israel has to find the bookmobile and all 15,000 books. Then the fun starts as he meets colorful characters, is placed in impossible situations, and tries to reason out the location of the books using the investigating techniques he has read about in books. And herein lies much of the charm of the book. Israel is totally in love with books and reading and I completely identify with this view of life. Of Israel it was said, "Books had spoilt him; they had curdled his brain, like cream left out on a summer's afternoon, or egss overbeaten with cream." And another trait that we share--"Since childhood, Israel had been tormented by a terrible fear of being caught somewhere having no books with him to read." Yes, I'm the gal who arrives at a vacation location with a fully loaded Kindle AND a bag of books. This is a fish-out-of-water adventure that has me wanting to read more about Israel. Luckily, this is the first book in a series and I can't wait to dive into the next volume.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    There are many books I don't mind giving away or swapping when I'm done reading them. "The Case of the Missing Books" is one I'd like to keep in my collection, however, and it surprised me when I finished it that I felt this way. When I began the book, I was amused, interested, and didn't mind the storyline, yet I wasn't completely enthralled or won over. Some of the humor in the beginning felt a little too much - and kind of slapstick. At first I thought, "Oh no! Poor Israel!" and then I starte There are many books I don't mind giving away or swapping when I'm done reading them. "The Case of the Missing Books" is one I'd like to keep in my collection, however, and it surprised me when I finished it that I felt this way. When I began the book, I was amused, interested, and didn't mind the storyline, yet I wasn't completely enthralled or won over. Some of the humor in the beginning felt a little too much - and kind of slapstick. At first I thought, "Oh no! Poor Israel!" and then I started thinking, "OK, this is a little much." I almost stopped reading it, but in spite of myself, I continued and as the story progressed, and I couldn't even tell you exactly where in the book it was, but I got hooked, and the clumsy misfortunes of Israel began to be balanced with one good thing happening here... another two good things happening there... and the whole story seemed to improve, too - by the end, I understood more why the book began as it did - Israel, a "Highly Sensitive Person," undergoes a slow, but sure, transformation. Characters (including Israel, to a point) I didn't particularly like in the beginning change, evolve, and become empathetic and likable. As for the mystery - it does begin laughably, but remember - Israel isn't a detective and doesn't claim to be one. He's pushed into this, and so I think it makes sense that some of his hypotheses are silly or funny. And one of his mistakes brings about something quite good, as a matter of fact. I love how the mystery is resolved - but that could be because I quite value books and having access to them (and I'm also one of those people who has a bookcase in every room of my home!) ... someone who doesn't mind having a good book to read but who's not really upset if he/she does NOT have a book, either, may be neutral about the whole missing books mystery idea.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    When I finished reading this book the three words that first came to my mind were; clever, funny, and human. I give it 3.5 stars. The Case of the Missing Books is the first in a series about Israel Armstrong, a librarian who takes a new job only to discover it is not at all what he expected. His library is closed and all the books are missing. To top things off he is in a "quirky" small town in Ireland far from anyone he knows and surrounded by a very, um, unique set of towns people. The people i When I finished reading this book the three words that first came to my mind were; clever, funny, and human. I give it 3.5 stars. The Case of the Missing Books is the first in a series about Israel Armstrong, a librarian who takes a new job only to discover it is not at all what he expected. His library is closed and all the books are missing. To top things off he is in a "quirky" small town in Ireland far from anyone he knows and surrounded by a very, um, unique set of towns people. The people in the area of Tumdrum were my favorite part of the novel. I loved that the author gave them each such interesting and defining attributes without getting too bogged down in description/details. As for the main character, Israel, sometimes I loved him, sometimes I pitied him, sometimes I just wanted to give him a good shaking or knock some sense into him. He was bumbling around bemoaning life at moments, and completely endearing at others. Defintiely a good main character. My one complaint about the book is that I could tell the whole time that the author was trying to establish a lot of background and set himself up for a series. Unlike other successful series where little bits of information are woven into the story, a good portion of this book was setting up for the second one. That being said, I still really enjoyed it! I liked the writing style and the characters, so I will be reading the next book in the series for sure.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    The Case of the Missing Books is effectively a cozy set in Northern Ireland. It has a quirky, awkward, central character as the sleuth and a cast of other colourful characters, and it takes place in a small town where everybody knows everybody else. The central plot revolves around Armstrong trying to find his feet in a strange place, where the locals are at one level welcoming and, at another, standoffish, whilst he tries to locate the missing books. It’s one of those books that I’m kind of amb The Case of the Missing Books is effectively a cozy set in Northern Ireland. It has a quirky, awkward, central character as the sleuth and a cast of other colourful characters, and it takes place in a small town where everybody knows everybody else. The central plot revolves around Armstrong trying to find his feet in a strange place, where the locals are at one level welcoming and, at another, standoffish, whilst he tries to locate the missing books. It’s one of those books that I’m kind of ambivalent about. It passed a few pleasant hours, but did not set the world alight. The plot is relatively straightforward and there is a gentle humour throughout, though no real belly-laughs; a kind of Last of the Summer Wine sitcom/farce vibe. My one real problem was that I found it difficult to believe in Israel Armstrong as a character. There were a few things that didn’t add-up. On the one hand he’s been a compulsive reader since a young child and he knows about books, and yet what’s in those books barely seems to have penetrated his skull. His bookishness and educational attainment didn’t quite sit right. And in general terms he's blessed with about every negative trait going, with few social skills or powers of deduction, and yet somehow he bumbles through whilst offending just about everybody at some point. Overall, if you’re a cozy fan then this might appeal.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holli

    Kind of goofy, but I liked it. I liked the setting (Ireland) and the subject (libraries). I didn't especially like Israel Armstrong, the main character, but I'm not sure I was supposed to like him all that much. I really don't think life had to be that hard for him. Plenty of quirky townspeople. Plenty of possibility for more mobile library adventures. Loved the following passage: Israel had grown up in and around libraries. Libraries were where he belonged. Libraries to Israel had always been a Kind of goofy, but I liked it. I liked the setting (Ireland) and the subject (libraries). I didn't especially like Israel Armstrong, the main character, but I'm not sure I was supposed to like him all that much. I really don't think life had to be that hard for him. Plenty of quirky townspeople. Plenty of possibility for more mobile library adventures. Loved the following passage: Israel had grown up in and around libraries. Libraries were where he belonged. Libraries to Israel had always been a constant. In libraries Israel had always known calm and peace; in libraries he'd always seemed to be able to breathe a little easier. When he walked through the doors of a library it was like entering a sacred space, like the Holy of Holies: the beautiful hush and the shunting of the brass-handled wooden drawers holding the card catalogues, the reassurance of the reference books . . ., the amusing little troughs of children's books; all human life was there, and you could borrow it and take it home for two weeks at a time, nine books per person per card., pp 11-12. Makes me glad to work in a library!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom is the first installment of Israel Armstrong, librarian/inept detective. Israel is a Jewish librarian from London who accepts a position as librarian in a small town in Ireland at the urging of his girlfriend. It is significant that Israel is Jewish because it is a very big deal to the residents of this small town. Once in Ireland, Israel suffers a series of mishaps that leave him physically and emotionally bruised, penniless, and the unhappy librarian The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom is the first installment of Israel Armstrong, librarian/inept detective. Israel is a Jewish librarian from London who accepts a position as librarian in a small town in Ireland at the urging of his girlfriend. It is significant that Israel is Jewish because it is a very big deal to the residents of this small town. Once in Ireland, Israel suffers a series of mishaps that leave him physically and emotionally bruised, penniless, and the unhappy librarian of a mobile library (re-named a "mobile learning center" in an attempt to move the title up a notch in prestige) that, unfortunately, is missing all its books. This very light but enjoyable comic mystery is a quick read and a pleasant way to pass a few hours.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marfita

    Why, oh, why don't I find incompetent librarians, obtuse supervisors, and uncooperative customers funny? Israel (the character, not the country) failed to win my sympathy (okay, maybe we're talking about the country as well). He's hostile (although it could have been blood sugar and bad travel karma - that would do it for me) and clumsy. The woman at the council is two-dimensional and her fatness and constant eating of junk food is insulting to those of us who love junk food, I guess. Israel is Why, oh, why don't I find incompetent librarians, obtuse supervisors, and uncooperative customers funny? Israel (the character, not the country) failed to win my sympathy (okay, maybe we're talking about the country as well). He's hostile (although it could have been blood sugar and bad travel karma - that would do it for me) and clumsy. The woman at the council is two-dimensional and her fatness and constant eating of junk food is insulting to those of us who love junk food, I guess. Israel is hired to be a librarian at a town where, after he arrives (not having been there to visit or be interviewed? Who does that?) he discovers the library has been closed and he will be in charge of the bookmobile - a vehicle stolen and then sold back to the council. On top of that, all 15,000 books have been stolen and everyone seems to think it's up to the stranger in town to find them. Map? Who needs a map? Don't you know where you are? This story is a nightmare for a librarian. Heh!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    This book reminded me, in a way, of Cold Comfort Farm - also starring a relatively-sophisticated urbanite amongst incomprehensible rural people. In this case, a bumbling, headache-prone librarian finds that the rural library that has hired him is administered by a woman whose food habits alone make him wince. The local Council has decided to close the library building and replace it with bookmobile service - not at all what Israel Armstrong had expected. Before he can begin, though, he has to fi This book reminded me, in a way, of Cold Comfort Farm - also starring a relatively-sophisticated urbanite amongst incomprehensible rural people. In this case, a bumbling, headache-prone librarian finds that the rural library that has hired him is administered by a woman whose food habits alone make him wince. The local Council has decided to close the library building and replace it with bookmobile service - not at all what Israel Armstrong had expected. Before he can begin, though, he has to find 15,000 missing books. Some are Very Overdue. Some - not. Armstrong, a vegetarian amongst carnivores, a man accustomed to a clean flat who has to camp out in a chicken coop - makes some unlikely friends and begins to appreciate the strange charms of the area. Charming and adorable, great fun to read. "Israel had seen Lost in Translation. Several times. And he suddenly felt as though he was in some kind of parallel Bill Murray universe..."

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kaila

    Another book that I forced myself to read 100 pages and then could not stomach it after that. I have a hard time putting up with blundering idiots in real life so it's little wonder why I can't tolerate them in my books. The main character of this novel is whiny and kind of mean and the author blames it on the fact that he is a book person and therefore sensitive and shy. In other words his love of books has led him to have no fortitude. That was the first big tip off that I was probably not goi Another book that I forced myself to read 100 pages and then could not stomach it after that. I have a hard time putting up with blundering idiots in real life so it's little wonder why I can't tolerate them in my books. The main character of this novel is whiny and kind of mean and the author blames it on the fact that he is a book person and therefore sensitive and shy. In other words his love of books has led him to have no fortitude. That was the first big tip off that I was probably not going to enjoy this book very much. Every problem he encountered was somehow brushed off and chalked up to the fact that he was a book person. My other big complaint with what I read was that all of the dialogue was flat and most of the main character's responses were "aaach!" I honestly has no idea what was going on with the book.

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