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The Bad Book Affair: A Mobile Library Mystery (Mobile Library Mystery #4)

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  495 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
The Bad Book Affair features the magnificently hapless Israel Armstrong - the duffle-coat wearing, navel-gazing Jewish librarian who solves crimes, mysteries, and domestic problems whilst driving a mobile library around the north coast of Ireland.In The Bad Book Affair Israel finds himself on the verge of his thirtieth birthday and on the trail of a troubled missing teenag ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published 2010 by Fourth Estate (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,007)
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May 04, 2016 Sterlingcindysu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up. A very funny book, one to consider when you're tired of WWII and family angst serious fiction. You don't need to read the others in a series to get the grist of this. In fact, the "mystery" part of this is very, very weak. And no, it's not about a "bad" book having an affair, although it is considered an adult book.

The best character to me was Ted, the driver (vs. the librarian) of the mobile library. Every comment he spoke with odd Irish words and when asked to explain, would u
Derek Baldwin
Aug 22, 2015 Derek Baldwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rather slight story and some Father Ted-isms can't take away the fact that this is a very funny and entertaining book, despite my having never read any of the earlier novels with the same character(s). Israel Armstrong is a believable and sympathetic character haplessly trying to fit in and never able to do so, but well-intentioned, and certainly persistent. What's best about this book though are the set-piece satirical sequences: an annual appraisal interview which resembles all those annual ...more
Susan Ackland
This was a pleasant read, with the humor arising from the cultural misunderstandings of the neurotic, uselessly literate main character and the natives of the small, rural town where he has somehow become marooned. The fact that israel Armstrong is a Jewish vegetarian in an environment where no one else is either Jewish or vegetarian is more of a literary mechanism than a deep driver of the character. He seems hardly more than nominally (pun intended) Jewish and his vegetarianism is insignifican ...more
Israel Armstrong sets out to find the daughter of a local political who disappeared after he loaned her one of the 'Unshelved' from his mobile library. The 'Unshelved' are books that are not considered appropriate for young impressionable minds and Israel receives a lot of flack for loaning a young girl one of these novels. Along the way, we are introduced to a variety of characters who help Israel discovere the whereabouts of the missing girl.

As a mystery novel, I was very disappointed in this
I confess that I didn't give this one much of a chance. I tossed it after about three chapters. It isn't necessarily the book's fault. The main character, Israel Armstrong, seems to be an amalgam of two people: my teenage daughter and my most troublesome employee.
On top of that, the book was very slow to start, because the author seemed to be having so much fun being cute and clever. I needed a more aggressive plot line to propel me past the descriptions of Israel, which made me feel like I sho
Susan Johnson
Oct 07, 2013 Susan Johnson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I read the entire book. It was just so awful. The so called plot didn't even start until half-way through the book. The characters were one dimensional. The lead one was made a Jewish vegetarian for no apparent reason. Maybe it was supposed to be exotic but since I'm from CA., it didn't seem exotic at all. There is no sense of place. It was set in Northern Ireland but could have taken place anywhere. It would have been exactly the same in Baltimore or Perth or where ever. Some re ...more
Pete F
Aug 25, 2014 Pete F rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Misfits and depressives to help them to feel better about themselves!
Shelves: fiction
I read The Bad Book Affair, by Ian Sansom several years ago, one of a series of novels about Israel Armstrong, a Jewish, vegetarian, politically correct, depressive, mobile librarian who lives in the very far north of Northern Ireland, where it always seems to be raining. As if this wasn't enough, he prefers books to people, lives in a converted chicken coop, and wears a duffle coat like Michael Foot! In his spare time, he undertakes some private detective work, which forms the basis of these st ...more
Shawna Millard
May 29, 2010 Shawna Millard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is like reading a screen play except without any suspense, enlightenment, excitement, or fun. I did actually finish it but it never improved. The ending was quite a let down. The main character is a lay-about, dump on everyone else major jerk and I couldn't stand him. There was definitely nothing in this book to capture the imagination or keep me remotely interested.
Sandy Green
Mar 24, 2010 Sandy Green rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Isreal Armstrong is an hilarious character, but also quite sweet and full of conflict and good intentions.
(I can't find the edition that I read on goodreads. The paperback that I read had 355 pages..)

What's not to love about a 30 year old North London Jewish Vegetarian mobile librarian living in North Ireland. Not just North Ireland, but on the northern most coast of the north of Northern Ireland. Israel is our "hapless" hero. And never was a label more appropriate. This down-on-his-luck fellow lives in an old converted chicken coop, works as a moblile librarian, with a cranky older fellow (Ted) and
Chris Leuchtenburg
“Maybe all English Jewish vegetarian mobile librarians were condemned to a life of headaches, weariness, and existential despair.” (p. 333.) Yes, Sansom has fun with his hapless amateur detective. “‘All right,’ said Colin. ‘But only because you’re a librarian slash detective. You guys are an endangered species.’” p. 258 Indeed this is as much (or more) lad-lit that it is a mystery, with many long stand-up riffs on modern life. “Buffy was probably one of the things that had made him want to becom ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, humor
Israel Armstrong, the most woebegone, rumpled, oddball librarian ever, is back in this 4th book in Ian Samson's Mobile Library Mystery series. I didn't think anyone other than librarians would be interested in the sly references to what it's like to work on a mobile library van (aka: bookmobile) in a humdrum town called Tumdrum in Northern Ireland, but the series must have an audience beyond just librarians based on its sales and popularity. Israel is described as a person who gets along with bo ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amateur sleuth Israel Armstrong is a Jewish vegetarian mobile librarian from Northern London, now living on the northernmost coast “of the north of the north” of Northern Ireland. He allows a 14-year-old girl to borrow a “bad book” (American Pastoral by Philip Roth). If lending a young girl such a book wasn’t bad enough, the girl, daughter of a prominent Unionist candidate, disappeared the next day. Besides the police, a number of others suspect Israel of not only abducting the girl, but corrupt ...more
May 16, 2013 Starry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
This series of novels by Ian Sansone tell of Israel Armstrong, an agonizingly self-questioning, almost-30-year-old London man who moves to a remote village in Northern Ireland. Israel lives in a not-yet-converted chicken coop on a farm (a home he doesn't really like) and drives the book mobile (a job he doesn't really like) and spends most of his time feeling out of place and introspective (ie, self-centered) and vaguely depressed, like everyone his age apparently feels these days.


Aug 27, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is the 4th book in the mobile library mystery series, and we finally (finally!) find out more about why our favorite Jewish-liberal-vegetarian librarian feels blue so often.

Israel is turning 30 soon, and he feels like he's spinning his wheels. His girlfriend has broken up with him and he just can't seem to get his act together and take charge of his life. He always meant to be doing something Important by now. Instead he's still wearing his beat up old brogues and corduroys, still rumbling
Mar 08, 2010 Bonnie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fourth in the series about a unique sleuth-- where character, dialogue, and setting make these so much fun to read. The crimes, such as they are, are not the main focus of these satirical books which have a lot of charm and a truly hapless detective who nonetheless manages to stay true to himself. Isreal Armstrong is a transplanted Londoner, and a Jewish, vegetarian mobile librarian. His library beat is the small far northern Irish seacoast town of Tumdrum and its environs. As his latest adventu ...more
Nov 07, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery, ireland
This book mercilessly pokes fun at two things I hold dear: libraries and Ireland. Sansom is so funny that I love his books despite that plus an irritating protagonist and other characters and fairly thin plots. I always chuckle at the absurdity in these books, but the scene of Israel's six month view had me in tears of laughter. The mystery in this book centers around a 14 year old who asks for a book from the "Unshelved" (books deemed too racy for the open shelves) who then later disappears. Is ...more
Gloria Lawrence
Sep 17, 2015 Gloria Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat Disappointing

I love the entire series, and have thoroughly enjoyed Sansom's sense of humor in each of the books. However, the use of profanity in this volume was a great disappointment. At times it was even overwhelming. I felt relieved that this was the end of the series. I probably would not have tried to read another one.
Feb 02, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a clever, intriguing book that I enjoyed very much. Of course I didn't think so at first. In the beginning I thought the main character Israel Armstrong was nothing but a man who needed to get a life. But as I continued reading I changed my mind, for how else is a Jewish, English vegetarian supposed to feel after breaking up with his girlfriend in the northern-most of Northern Ireland? Now I have to buy the rest of the books in the series.
I would start at the beginning of the series, but this, too, was enjoyable with some fairly hilarious situations with librarians having to put books under the counter--"The Unshelved"--to keep the innocent safe, etc. "The world's favorite Jewish vegetarian mobile librarian is back again for another adventure. Well, not really an adventure, but a search for a missing 14-year-old girl. Somehow, officials in Tumdrum (Ireland) get it into their heads that Israel Armstrong had something to do with th ...more
Sep 16, 2011 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
OK. I abandoned it. It was horrible. Unattractive characters, lousy prose. Life's too short for trash like this to steal one's time.


I am only at Chapter 3. I tried to read it a month ago, but put it down as too boring. Now that I'm this far into it, I may put it down as too idiotic. When I mentioned the nature of the main character to my husband at breakfast today, he wondered if it only got published because it's about a librarian; librarians all over the English-speaking world would likely
Sandra Grauschopf
This is one of those strange books where you're not really sure where it's going, but you don't mind going along for the ride. This is the story of Israel Armstrong, who for some reason that's never fully explained, is working in a tiny town he hates in the north of the north of North Ireland, doing a job he hates, as a mobile librarian. He longs to return to London, but I have no idea why he doesn't just up and go. Through sheer haplessness, he gets involved in a mystery of why a 14-year-old gi ...more
Carrie Fleharty
An interesting read for understanding the life in Ireland. Main character Israel Armstrong "the librarian" is a character that was well developed. However, he needs to learn how to cope with life a bit better. Typical male, and typical for the story. The case of the bad book left me wondering if Israel would ever grow up.
I am a sucker for books about books. And I had just returned from trip to Ireland. So this was pleasant. Funny in parts. Easy to digest. But I think I have had enough and don't need to plumb the series.
Andy Plonka
Israel Armstrong is an acceptable caricature of a librarian, and while there are humorous moments and kudos to the profession, the situations get stupidly silly in parts. The bookmobile is the best part
Feb 16, 2010 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Israel Armstrong, the "detective" in this series, is a fish out of water: a Jewish vegetarian from London living on the northern coast of Northern Ireland and working as a mobile librarian. He's full of paradoxes: depressed but witty, lethargic but curious, sympathetic of the rural Irish but mystified by their speech and way of life. His method of unraveling mysteries by talking to eccentric locals is a cross between Precious Ramotswe and Hamish Macbeth. Sansom's comic-ironic writing style is re ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Jackson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Except for him telling what someone read, Israel is doing better -- sadder some, better some. I am less likely to feel like cuffing him a la Ted.
Aug 13, 2014 Stacie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sansom's books are always a "slow burn" as I like to put it. In his story telling style, the action builds slowly to a crescendo, but I always enjoy his books as a whole, and the Bad Book Affair is no exception. Great character development. This might be my favorite of the series.
Laurie Mastrolia
That was probably one of the worst books I have read in a long time. The British "humor" in it was not so funny and I am not sure what the plot of the book was even supposed to be. I cannot believe it ended the way it did and that it took that long to get to no point at all.
The Bad Book Affair is a happy book. There is a mystery in the plot but that seems to be a filler to the various challenges faced by Israel Armstrong in living in the northernmost coast of the north of the north part of Northern Ireland.

I have not read other books in the series but it did not seem matter. There are funny ha-ha scenes and funny Ok scenes and some meaning of life scenes. The six month performance appraisal reminded me of the best of Dilbert.

This is not a book for those looking for
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