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The Case of the Missing Books (Mobile Library Mystery #1)
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The Case of the Missing Books (Mobile Library Mystery #1)

3.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,741 Ratings  ·  574 Reviews
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 has 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? Th ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published January 2nd 2006 by Harper Collins Publishers (first published 2005)
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Nov 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
It was obvious from when I ordered this book that it would not be your average mystery: young Jewish (half Irish) man arrives from joblessness in London to a small town in Ireland - Tumdrum - in the expectation of taking up a post as the new town librarian. After a hellish trip, which turns out to be fairly typical of his luck, he discovers that funding has been cut, the library will be sold and razed, and his new job is to be driving the mobile library replacing the brick and mortar stationary ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Avete presente quei commenti in copertina scritti per chissà quanti millemila euro da giornali importanti, come il New York Times etc. etc.? Vorrei dire, quei commenti che ci prendono per il culo 'Scrittura magistrale, una storia da togliere il fiato' e lusinghe varie? Ecco, io mica ci credo mai a queste cazzatine che scrivono sullo stile, su quant'è bravo Tal dei Tali, su quanto la sua storia sia una spirale di emozioni, però, quando ho letto 'Antidoto alla malinconia' scritto dal The Guardian ...more
Aug 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. It’s a fish-out-of-water tale where Israel Armstrong moves from London to northern Ireland to be a librarian. As are many small communities, Israel has a rough transition that is exacerbated by almost every member of the community. He’s so hapless that his continual misfortunes don’t garner an abundance of sympathy. I did not find a single character in this book likable.

He also must solve the mystery of the missing library books which goes just as badly as his transitio
Mar 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all librarians
Recommended to Carolyn by: Washington Post Book Review
This is a charmer. This is the story of a vegetarian librarian from London who finds himself in rural Ireland running a run down bookmobile with no books. Israel Atmstrong, the librarian, is a composite of Walter Mitty, Inspector Clouseau and a bit of Ignatius Reilly. The people in the village would also be right at home in Twin Peaks. How can anyone resist this? The joy in this read is the richness of the characters coupled with wonderful writing of Ian Sansom. I have read some criticism that i ...more
Mary Tuley
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who's hipper than me, and that should be a large group
I know I should've loved this book, but I really didn't -- probably because it's rougher and grimmer than I could enjoy right now. However, I still think it deserves four or five stars, for all the open-minded readers who WILL enjoy it. Besides, the main premise -- that the new librarian has to go search for the library's books, all of which have been misplaced -- gets automatic points for originality and fun.
Aug 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
"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 ...more
Oct 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
BJ Rose
Sep 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Israel Armstrong is an overweight vegetarian Englishman with a Jewish mother and an Irish father who takes the job of librarian in a Northern Ireland village. A few problems erupt immediately, however. The library is closed permanently, the Mobile Library he's supposed to use is an empty, rusty van, AND all the books are missing! And the craziness begins.

I do not enjoy slapstick comedy, and I'm sure I would not like a movie version of this book. But I think that the reason this works in book for
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
Israel Armstrong, a half-Jewish, half-Irish slacker is hired by the local council of Tumdrum, a small town in Northern Ireland, to be the librarian for a newly-instituted mobile library. There's only one small problem (aside from the fact that Israel hates everyone in and everything about Tumdrum): the library's entire collection of books is missing and Israel is expected to find it. Our hero becomes an unlikely gumshoe, determined to trace his missing collection and in the process discovers tha ...more
Ruth Turner
May 15, 2014 rated it it was ok


I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't.

A cast of unlikeable characters, inane dialogue and a little too much slapstick. At times I was reminded of the Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First."


Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regno-unito
E' il primo libro che ho preso in prestito dalla sezione ebook delle biblioteche di Milano, tanto per provarne il funzionamento. Mi sono basata solo sul titolo e sulla copertina, e mi sono trovata a metà senza accorgermene. Israel, londinese un po' sfigato, accetta un lavoro da bibliotecario in uno sperduto paesino rurale dell'Irlanda del nord. Peccato che, come si evince dal titolo, la biblioteca sia vuota. Anzi, è pure chiusa: gli assegnano uno scassato furgoncino, un autista bilioso e il comp ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it liked it
So much more could have been done with this plot the slight humor could not make up for for the missing substance.

When a protagonist is as supercilious as this one, its not possible for this reader to triumph along. Perhaps a reader more versed in detective style would appreciate the references and innuendoes that fell flat for me.
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was a charity shop find, and I'm glad I brought it home, full of funny characters, in situations that were perfectly believable (well, possibly not the books, but the way new people are treated in a small village)
I particualrly enjoyed the character of TEd, off to look for more now!
This book was . . . I don't know how to describe it. I'm at a loss. It took me far too long to read (almost a week!) and, apart from some of the dialogue, just moved at too slow of a pace. But I slogged my way through it. . .

. . . only to be let down in the end! The mystery of the missing books solved itself, with no help from Israel. So after all of his bumbling, he never did find the books or figure out who stole them ((view spoiler)
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
A light, fun read that's not really a mystery, more a fish-out-of-water story. London librarian Israel Armstrong, a schlubby Jewish vegetarian, accepts a post in rugged, rural Tumdrum, Northern Ireland, only to find when he arrives that the library has been closed and he'll have to run the mobile library (aka Bookmobile). Oh, and his lodgings are in a converted chicken coop

However, there's a snag, which one can guess from the title of the book: All the library books are missing. Friendless, cash
Sarah Langer
Am Schluss war's doch noch halbwegs lesbar, aber keine 10 Pferde könnten mich dazu bringen noch einen Teil zu lesen. Furchtbare Dialoge, der Witz zwar erkennbar, aber nicht lustig. Auflösung sehr plötzlich und unmotiviert.
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book although I realize that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. Israel Armstrong is a librarian--well, he has his degree and has worked in several short-term situations--who is willing to relocate from London to Tumdrum, a small town in Northern Ireland, in order to finally have a job in a full-time position. Israel is around 30 and is a Jewish vegetarian who arrives in Tumdrum to find the library closed and all of the books missing. In fact, his new supervisor, Linda Wei (Northern ...more
Jul 15, 2010 rated it liked it
There are many books I don't mind giving away or swapping when I'm done reading them. "The Case of the Missing Books" is one I'd like to keep in my collection, however, and it surprised me when I finished it that I felt this way.

When I began the book, I was amused, interested, and didn't mind the storyline, yet I wasn't completely enthralled or won over. Some of the humor in the beginning felt a little too much - and kind of slapstick. At first I thought, "Oh no! Poor Israel!" and then I starte
May 15, 2009 rated it liked it
When I finished reading this book the three words that first came to my mind were; clever, funny, and human. I give it 3.5 stars.

The Case of the Missing Books is the first in a series about Israel Armstrong, a librarian who takes a new job only to discover it is not at all what he expected. His library is closed and all the books are missing. To top things off he is in a "quirky" small town in Ireland far from anyone he knows and surrounded by a very, um, unique set of towns people. The people i
Rob Kitchin
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it
The Case of the Missing Books is effectively a cozy set in Northern Ireland. It has a quirky, awkward, central character as the sleuth and a cast of other colourful characters, and it takes place in a small town where everybody knows everybody else. The central plot revolves around Armstrong trying to find his feet in a strange place, where the locals are at one level welcoming and, at another, standoffish, whilst he tries to locate the missing books. It’s one of those books that I’m kind of amb ...more
Aug 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Kind of goofy, but I liked it. I liked the setting (Ireland) and the subject (libraries). I didn't especially like Israel Armstrong, the main character, but I'm not sure I was supposed to like him all that much. I really don't think life had to be that hard for him. Plenty of quirky townspeople. Plenty of possibility for more mobile library adventures.

Loved the following passage:
Israel had grown up in and around libraries. Libraries were where he belonged. Libraries to Israel had always been a
The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom is the first installment of Israel Armstrong, librarian/inept detective. Israel is a Jewish librarian from London who accepts a position as librarian in a small town in Ireland at the urging of his girlfriend. It is significant that Israel is Jewish because it is a very big deal to the residents of this small town.

Once in Ireland, Israel suffers a series of mishaps that leave him physically and emotionally bruised, penniless, and the unhappy librarian
May 21, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mi chiedo perchè sono condannata a finire un libro anche se non mi piace già dalle prime pagine. Forse coltivo la speranza fino alla fine, che capiti qualcosa, che l'autore abbia un'lluminazione che salva il romanzo in extremis, insomma qualunque cosa. Con Ian Sansom non è capitato niente. Una noia, ma una noia di una noia pazzesca. L'unico sentimento che mi ha ispirato è stato quello di entrare nel libro e prendere a calcioni nel sedere il protagonista. Che non fa ridere per niente, ma è terrib ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
This book reminded me, in a way, of Cold Comfort Farm - also starring a relatively-sophisticated urbanite amongst incomprehensible rural people. In this case, a bumbling, headache-prone librarian finds that the rural library that has hired him is administered by a woman whose food habits alone make him wince. The local Council has decided to close the library building and replace it with bookmobile service - not at all what Israel Armstrong had expected. Before he can begin, though, he has to fi ...more
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
Why, oh, why don't I find incompetent librarians, obtuse supervisors, and uncooperative customers funny? Israel (the character, not the country) failed to win my sympathy (okay, maybe we're talking about the country as well). He's hostile (although it could have been blood sugar and bad travel karma - that would do it for me) and clumsy. The woman at the council is two-dimensional and her fatness and constant eating of junk food is insulting to those of us who love junk food, I guess.
Israel is
Kate Schindler
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
I had a hard time getting into this. It's about a hapless Jewish librarian from London who goes to a village in Ireland only to find out that the library he was supposed to run is closed. He's in charge of the mobile library, but the books are all missing. Some of the conversations he has are just galling. To paraphrase one between him and his boss, a bureaucrat:

Librarian: But how can I be the librarian with no books?
Boss: Looks like you'll have to find them.
Librarian: Alone?! I don't know anyon
Mar 18, 2009 rated it did not like it
Another book that I forced myself to read 100 pages and then could not stomach it after that. I have a hard time putting up with blundering idiots in real life so it's little wonder why I can't tolerate them in my books. The main character of this novel is whiny and kind of mean and the author blames it on the fact that he is a book person and therefore sensitive and shy. In other words his love of books has led him to have no fortitude. That was the first big tip off that I was probably not goi ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
First, I have to thank Bonnie for her review of book 4 in this series: I'd never heard of Ian Sansom and the Mobile Library Mysteries before, but her great review made me want to read them.

I loved every minute of reading this book. I don't have one of those dainty, giggly-girl laughs, I have an embarrassingly loud, guffaw-type of laugh, and let me tell you, I've embarrassed myself in the lunchroom, the doctor's waiting room, and woken up my husband laughing out loud at this book. The dialog is
May 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I decided to carry on reading this book even though it was full of dreadful cliched characters and a weak plot. I just wanted to find out where the books were. I can't find any info about Ian Sampson but I am assuming he is English, and at times I felt that this book could be a bit insulting to Irish people in the way he portrayed them. On the other hand, they may be so easy going as to say "Ach, its only a silly book" as one of his characters may say.

On the plus side, it was a pretty quick read
Oct 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: funnylight, mysteries
A vegetarian Jewish Londoner gets his first librarian job in a small town in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, the library is closed. He's assigned to drive the mobile library, but first he has to find out where the fifteen thousand books disappeared. Meanwhile, he tries to fit into a small town where he's constantly reminded about church, offered a lot of meat, and forced to sleep in a chicken coop. Hilarious! The author writes with a sly, dry wit, and the small-town life details are almost cyni ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Mobile Library Mystery (4 books)
  • Mr. Dixon Disappears (Mobile Library Mystery #2)
  • The Book Stops Here (Mobile Library Mystery, #3)
  • The Bad Book Affair (Mobile Library Mystery, #4)
“They were always there for you, books, like a small pet dog that doesn't die.” 2 likes
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