Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review: The Case of The Missing Books by Ian Sansom

The Case of the Missing Library Books is the first in Ian Sansom's series of comedic novels featuring the librarian Israel Armstrong who, in this first outing, becomes an unlikely detective. Israel arrives, from London, in small and obscure Irish town where outsiders are made to feel less than welcome. He quickly finds that he has been downgraded to mobile librarian and that he must locate all 14000 missing books.

This is an interesting yarn which draws heavily on Israel's discomfort and inability to fit in with the locals for sources of humour but there is a lot of situational amusement to be derived from this book too. Cultural stereotypes are used a lot in this story but they are not over-relied upon and largely occur because of Israel's lack of social skills and preconceived ideas.

Israel is an unconventional hero both because of his physical limitations and unwillingness to engage the situation, and this is refreshing in a literary world of so many cliched lead characters who are perfectly adapted to deal with any situation; Israel is a real person, bumbling, indecisive and shy but capable of doing what is needed when he sets his mind to it. Unfortunately, many of the large number of characters that are introduced are intriguingly interesting but not expanded upon; one gets the impression that the author is saving many of them for subsequent novels.

This book is also appealing due to the way that Israel gradually becomes part of the community and that turns out to be central to solving the mystery of the missing books.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone as its easy-to-read style, amusing situations and interesting story will engage almost any level and age of reader.

Score: 8.5/10

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