Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Case of the Missing Books, Ian Sansom: book review

Posted by lea at 10:57 PM
The Case of the Missing Books is the first of a comedy/mystery series involving reluctant hero Israel Armstrong: a chubby, bumbling, Jewish, not-entirely-inept librarian.

The plot begins when Israel lands in the middle of nowhere, Tumdrum Ireland, having accepted a librarian position only to discover that it's for a mobile library (apparently the bottom rung of libraridom). To add insult to injury, he's forced to live in a barely-converted chicken coop with a quirky family of brother, sister and their grandfather, he doesn't have enough money to return home without receiving his first paycheck, and all the library books have gone missing and the council won't let him out of his contract until he finds them.

I was led by the back cover and many reviews to believe that it's a funny and delightful book, but as much as I wanted to like it, it just wasn't the hilarious comic caper I'd hoped for.

The characters are drawn a little too hard like "quirky locals" and they end up as single dimensions of a big farce, like the overweight Linda Wei who constantly crams junk food in her mouth at every opportunity and punctures her scenes by passing gas.

It's gentle humour that attempts to please, but ultimately failed to engage this reader.

Reviewed as part of the Great Library Challenge, author S.


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