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?
British author Sansom (The Impartial Recorder) launches a humorous new series set in Tumdrum, Northern Ireland, the small village that transplanted Londoner Israel Armstrong reluctantly makes his home. The nebbishy Jewish vegetarian shows up at the Tumdrum and District Public Library eager to assume his post as the new librarian, only to find the place boarded up and that it's his job to steward the beat-up mobile library instead. When he finally gets inside the library building, he discovers its 15,000 books are missing. Less astute than the detective characters in the novels he has devoured, Israel blunders through an investigation, making startling discoveries while suffering some hard knocks along the way. Israel's fish-out-of-water dilemmas and encounters with kooky locals will resonate with Alexander McCall Smith fans. (Jan.)
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January 02, 2007
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Excerpt from The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom
No. No, no, no, no, no. This was not what was supposed to happen. This was not it at all.
Israel was outside the library, suitcase in hand, the hood on his old brown duffle coat turned up against the winter winds, and there he was, squinting, reading the sign.
Department of Entertainment, Leisure and Community Services
It is with regret that Rathkeltair Borough Council announces the closure of Tumdrum and District Public Library, with effect from 1 January 2005. Alternative provision is available for borrowers in Rathkeltair Central Library. A public information meeting will be held in February 2005 to examine proposals for local library and information services and resources. See local press for details.
Further information is available by contacting the Department of Entertainment, Leisure and Community Services at the address below.
The following associated planning application and environmental statement may be examined at the Town Hall Planning Office, Rathkeltair between the hours of 9.30 a.m.-10.30 a.m., Monday to Thursday. It is advisable to make an appointment before calling at the office.
Written comments should be addressed to the Divisional Planning Manager, Town Hall, Rathkeltair BT44 2BB, to be received by 5 February 2005. Please quote the application reference number in any correspondence.
Applic No: X/2004/0432/0
Location: Carnegie Public Library, Hammond Road, Tumdrum
Proposal: Proposed mixed-use development including residential, live-work units, class 2 use (financial, professional and other services), class 3 use (business), class 4 shop and community facilities.
T. Brunswick, BA, MBA,
Chief Executive and Town Clerk
Rathkeltair Borough Council, Town Hall,
Rathkeltair, Co. Antrim BT44 2BB
Unbelievable. That was just . . . unbelievable.
He couldn't take it all in; his eyes seemed to skid across the lines.
He had to read it all again and still the only words he took in were 'Library' and 'Closure'--and they hit him hard, like a blow to the head, literally rocked him back on his worn-out old heels, the worn-out old heels on his one and only pair of worn-out best shoes, his brown brogues, too tight and permanently unpolished, shoes that had done him since graduation for all and every special occasion, for weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs and for the interminable and unsuccessful job interviews.
Israel had a headache and he was tired from the journey, his whole body and his one and only best brown corduroy suit wrinkled and furrowed from the coach and the ferry and the train and the bus, and he put down his suitcase, shrugged his shoulders a little to wake himself up, and he read the sign again more carefully.
Oh, God. He took another Nurofen and a sip of water from his water bottle.
He'd read and understood the whole now--that greasy little 'with regret' and the weaselly 'public information meeting', the obfuscating 'proposed mixed-used development'--but it was the two words 'Library' and 'Closure' that really carried all the meaning, that hit hardest. He shook his head to clear his mind and pushed his mop of messy home-cut curly hair from his eyes and his little round gold-rimmed glasses up high onto his furrowed forehead and he took a long, wobbly step back and lifted up his face and looked at the building in front of him: two storeys of unforgiving bluff red brick, blinds drawn, big oak doors locked, no lights, no sign of life.