The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom is a light, easy-read mystery is a novel choice for National Library Week. There’s a lot of dialog (maybe too much at times) but since it takes place in Northern Ireland, I guess it’s reasonable to espect a bit of blarney or wit-repartee. Enter Israel Armstrong, the primary character, now living in a converted chicken coop, and according to the first sentence is” possibly Ireland’s only English Jewish vegetarian mobile librarian.”
Israel is depressed; his girlfriend Gloria has just broken up with him, he’s about to turn 30, and he’s under suspicion in the disappearance of a local teenager. Some consider him responsible because (horror of horrors) he lent the girl a book from the library’s special “Unshelved” collection. Rather than be run out of town, he hops in the library van and does his own research, of sorts. Israel, in his frumpy cords and rather slovenly ways, is a very unlikely detective, but much of the humor comes from this self-effacing characterization. This is not classic literature, but book-lovers, especially, will find some good laughs.