Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

The Case of the Missing Books

BooksThe Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom


The other day, I was shelving books at the library, and stumbled across this one. Hm, I thought, I’ve read this. Did I ever write it up on my blog? Sure enough, I haven’t. So, this is a bonus. I guess. I mean, no one’s been knocking on my door through email to ask me about new reviews, so maybe it’s just a bonus for me.


This is an odd sort of mystery, and it’s hard to get into it right at first, because the main character, Israel Armstrong, is a bit of a loser. He gets caught up in a job that he doesn’t want, which is driving the bookmobile in the small Northern Irish town of Tumdrum. Tumdrum is a town of hard-grizzled farmers and workers, and Israel is a whiny Jewish man who has a hard time remaining vegetarian in a town where the chicken they serve for dinner is that same one that shared Israel’s bed the night before.

The thing is, Israel came to Tumdrum with the idea of being the librarian. When he arrives and discovers that the library has closed, and he now has to drive the bookmobile (a vehicle that is about as run down and decrepit as one would expect for the neat-freak that Israel turns out to be), he tries to quit, but finds that he’s under contract now. Stranger still is that the library has no books in it. Now, Israel has to find out where all the books are.

To be fair to the author, though, this is a funny book. Israel is supposed to be a loser, and even though it makes it harder to be sympathetic to him, once the antics get under way, he becomes more of an incidental part of the story to all the weirdness that follows him. The novel is less plot-driven than a mystery probably should be, but the plot is there to set up the scenes, and the scenes are a riot. Israel is the typical fish out of water, but Sansom knows how to set up his character to get the wackiest results out of him. You’ll likely be disappointed by the denouement if you’re really into mysteries, but don’t let it distract you from all the other funny business going on in Tumdrum.

This is a romp, nothing more, and nothing less. If you want a light, funny diversion that will keep you occupied for a few hours, sit down with Israel and Ian and let them take you to Tumdrum.


April 26, 2007 - Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews

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