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The Case of the Missing Books: 07/10/14
The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom is the first in a mystery series involving a bookmobile driving librarian in the outer wilderness of Northern Ireland.
Israel Armstrong is a newly graduated librarian. He's been struggling to find work and because he's young, and not burdened with a family, has the flexibility to move. In his case it's from London to a small village in Northern Ireland, far enough away that it takes two days to get there if one is traveling on the cheap.
His job is sold on one set of expectations: head of the library inside the village proper. The reality is completely different. The building has been shuttered and instead, the library is a bookmobile that is sitting in storage in the yard of the only taxi operation. The other hitch: there aren't any books!
Not exactly. There are books but they aren't in the library. Nor are they in the bookmobile. They are somewhere else. If Israel is to prove himself worthy of the job to his employer and the village, he has to find the books.
Now here's the thing: Israel who is set up as a comedic but sympathetic character isn't very likable. Sure he's tired. Sure he's had a long trip. And sure, the reality of the job is very different than what was promised. But if he's this upset about the situation, he should just shut up and go home, rather than making an ass of himself.
But, and here's where I knock off a star from the rating, he doesn't. He spends the first half or so of the book snarking about the job, his living situation, the people of the village, and so forth. The actual mystery has to wait for Israel to get his head out of his ass and come to terms with the reality of his job before he actually decides to find the books.
During the worst of Israel's tantrum, I found myself wishing I could trade places with him. I would love to be a bookmobile librarian (and have even applied to such a job). No luck so far, though, on my quest to drive one.