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Cozy Not Cozy

I’m a sucker for cozy mysteries. I love them. I like other mysteries, too, but the more limited and more specific realm of the cozy appeals to me. I also love when writers are clever enough to successfully mix genre effectively.

One such book is The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom. This is a mystery, but it doesn’t really fit into the accepted categories for mysteries. It’s by no means hardboiled, and it’s not exactly cozy. (In full disclosure, I love cozy mysteries and I’ve even written about them on this blog!) Sansom’s book lives somewhere in between. I like that.

As the title indicates, the crime is a heist, not a murder, and the unwilling sleuth is a librarian named Israel Armstrong who is charged by his brand new employers, to find some 15,000 missing library books. (Also in full disclosure, I wanted to read this book after reading the description!) So, we have no murder, no cats, and the sleuth is a man…not exactly cozy fodder. Did I mention that it’s set in Northern Ireland and our librarian sleuth arrives from London for the job? That probably sealed the deal for me wanting to look into this book.

I’m glad I did. It’s funny. VERY funny. Very uncomfortably, awkwardly funny (think the first season of the original BBC series The Office).  It’s also well written. It also reads very quickly. I am, what I believe to be, one of the slowest readers on the planet. That said, I tore through this quickly. Again, I think it’s due to Sansom being quite a good writer. His ability to balance the elements of his fiction are not lost here. It’s a real pleasure to read a piece of so-called genre fiction that is so well crafted. There are plenty of cases where the skill of the writer is not evident in fiction like this, and it’s a fantastic treat to find a case where it is present.

Here are the four books that make up the Mobile Library Mystery Series. Check them out!

Book cover of The Case of the Missing Books

The Case of the Missing Books: A Mobile Library Mystery
By Ian Sansom
Londoner Israel Armstrong arrives in Tumdrum, Northern Ireland, to begin his librarian job, only to learn the library closed–permanently. After being reassigned as driver of the decrepit bookmobile, Israel discovers that all of the books are missing and sets about finding them. 2005.

Mr. Dixon Disappears: A Mobile Library Mystery
By Ian Sansom
Tumdrum, Northern Ireland. British mobile librarian and amateur sleuth Israel Armstrong is suspected of robbing a department store and kidnapping the owner. Hoping to clear his name, Israel sets out to find the missing man and meets local characters along the way. Some strong language. 2006.

The Book Stops Here: A Mobile Library Mystery
By Ian Sansom
Northern Ireland bookmobile librarian Israel Armstrong and his colleague Ted Carson attend the annual mobile library convention in London, where they compete in a contest. When their van is stolen, Israel’s mother helps search for the vehicle. Meanwhile Israel tries to visit his girlfriend Gloria. 2008.

The Bad Book Affair: A Mobile Library Mystery
By Ian Sansom
Northern Ireland bookmobile librarian Israel Armstrong lends fourteen-year-old Lyndsay Morris, the Goth daughter of a local politician, a copy of a banned book. When Lyndsay disappears, Israel becomes a suspect. He and his colleague Ted Carson search the county for the missing teen. 2010.

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