Mr Dixon Disappears (Mobile Library Series #2)

Mr Dixon Disappears (Mobile Library Series #2)

3.2 4
by Ian Sansom

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Mr. Dixon a member of the Ulster Association of Magicians, has gone missing—along with one hundred thousand pounds in cash. Israel Armstrong, bighearted and overly inquisitive, should stick to delivering library books to out-of-the-way readers and not get involved in the investigation. But of course, he can't help himself—which costs him his job and

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Mr. Dixon a member of the Ulster Association of Magicians, has gone missing—along with one hundred thousand pounds in cash. Israel Armstrong, bighearted and overly inquisitive, should stick to delivering library books to out-of-the-way readers and not get involved in the investigation. But of course, he can't help himself—which costs him his job and earns him a place of dishonor among the police's prime suspects. Can Israel clear his name and get his van back? Will the exhibition of old local photos he's been driving around County Antrim offer clues to Mr. D.'s whereabouts? And is a romance in the offing with winsome barmaid Rosie Hart?

All will be revealed!

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
“the great pleasure in this romp derives from Israel’s glum-in-his-Guinness rueful world view...”
London Times
“blissful British comedies for the intellectual escapist”
The Belfast Telegraph
“[a] comic masterpiece”
Maureen Corrigan
Mr. Dixon Disappears is not one of those mysteries one enjoys for the plot. (For the last two-thirds of the book, I kept having to remind myself what the ostensible crime was.) Rather, the great pleasure in this romp derives from Israel's glum-in-his-Guinness rueful world view.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In Sansom's wry second mystery to feature Northern Ireland mobile librarian Israel Armstrong (after The Case of the Missing Books), Israel is suspected of robbing and kidnapping a local department store magnate, the titular Mr. Dixon, who dabbled in the magical arts. To clear his name, Israel must penetrate the bizarre world of Ulster magic. Dixon's wife seems curiously unmoved by her husband's absence, but perhaps all the alcohol she swills is masking her true emotions. If this isn't enough to ruin Israel's week, Linda, his boss at the mobile library, learns that Israel's been digging into the petty cash to pay his friend (and love interest), Rosie, to work for a few hours each week. Linda suspends him, and Rosie, who had thought her job was on the up and up, gets steamed about Israel's patronizing deception. Readers will enjoy the snappy dialogue and wacky cast of characters, particularly the lovable and winsome Israel. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A feckless vegetarian Jewish English librarian takes up residence in northern Ireland, where he's greeted by unexpected troubles. His mum wanted him to be a doctor, of course. Or at least a lawyer. But Israel Armstrong, now nearly 30, was such a book nerd that he willingly moved from cosmopolitan London to County Antrim to take up a post driving the bookmobile. He had to leave his girlfriend Gloria behind, but organizing the five-panel display commemorating the 100-year history of the town's main department store, Dixon and Pickering's, kept him busy. Alas, it also landed him in a jail cell when he went to the store to install it and learned that Mr. Dixon had vanished, as had millions of pounds from the company coffers. The picaresque trail he wanders to prove his innocence is fueled by packets of chips and cinnamon scones, about all he can afford once the library fires him right after the cops seize him for kidnapping and robbery. Many satirical and flamboyantly comic encounters later, Israel is off the hook for crimes he didn't commit but saddled with woes of a more romantic nature. The plot is wispy, but the dialogue is certainly amusing. Readers who enjoy send-ups of crime novels, talk-radio hosts, city pomposities and rural eccentricities will queue up for the series (The Case of the Missing Books, 2007, etc.).

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Mobile Library Series, #2
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.86(w) x 5.04(h) x 0.09(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mr. Dixon Disappears
A Mobile Library Mystery

Chapter One

He was sick of the excuses and the lies. He was tired of the evasions and the untruths, of people refusing to stand up and speak the truth and take responsibility for their own actions. It seemed to him like yet another symptom of the decline of Western civilisation; of chaos; and climate change; and environmental disaster; and war; disease; famine; oppression; the eternal slow slide down and down and down. It was entropy, nemesis, apotheosis, imminent apocalypse and sheer bad manners all rolled into one.

People were not returning their library books on time.

'I'm sorry, I forgot,' people would say.

And, 'I've been in hospital.'

Or, 'I liked it so much I lent it to my sister.' (Or my brother, or my mother, or my father, or my cousin, or my friend, who lives up country, or in Derry, or over there in England, actually, and isn't that where you're from?)

Or, 'Sure, I brought it back already.'

Or, 'No. I don't think so. I never had that one out.'

Or, 'I put it back on the shelves myself. Some other one must have it out now.'

Or, 'Someone stole it.'

Or, 'I left it on the bus.' Or in the bath, or on holiday, or in the car and it's in for servicing.

And, even, once, 'It was a bad book, full of bad language and bad people doing bad things, so I threw it away.' (Well, what the hell did Mrs Onions expect, borrowing Last Exit to Brooklyn? Israel had asked her, after he'd got her to pay the replacement cost of the book, and a fine, and had steered her safely back towards her usual large-print romanticfiction, and it turned out she had a cousin who'd emigrated to New York back in the sixties and she'd never visited and she was toying with the idea of a trip over for her seventieth birthday and she'd wanted to find out what it was like over there, and frankly, there was no chance of her visiting now after reading that filth, they were going to go to Donegal for a few days instead, to see her sister, down in Gweedore, which was quite far enough, and did Israel know if Frank McCourt had written any others?)

But mostly when they were challenged about their overdue or unreturned books, the good people of Tumdrum would just narrow their eyes and look at you with a blank expression and purse their lips and say, 'Book? What book?'

It wasn't funny. It was cracking him up.

He patted his face with cold water and stared at himself, freshly shaved, in the mirror hung on a nail above the makeshift sink.

He squinted at himself.

In his teens and even into his early twenties Israel had spent a lot of time looking into mirrors, trying to work out whether he was good-looking or not, which was quite a project, a hobby almost; he could have spent hours at it. Was his nose perhaps a little too large, his eyes a little too narrow, his lips too full, his ears not quite right? Pressing, important and immense as those questions had once appeared to be, they no longer seemed to bother him, he didn't know why—he supposed that maybe there comes a time in every man's life when he makes up his mind and decides one way or another about the cut of his own jib and has to learn to live with it, and maybe he'd reached that point, or maybe Tumdrum had just cured him of himself. Either way, it didn't seem to bother him any more, the question of whether he was good-looking or not. What bothered him now was: am I there at all? Or, where am I? He often found himself glancing at himself in the wing-mirror of the van, trying to catch himself out, trying to locate himself, checking for signs of life.

He tried to think who it was he reminded himself of: his father? No. Not his father. Israel was too wide and too plush, too messy: the glasses; the nose; the unruly hair. His dad had always been well turned-out; he was more sports-casual, his dad. Israel reminded himself more of the father of one of his best friends from school, a man who was an art lecturer at a sixth-form college, a tense, fragile, bitter man who wore cords during the week and who had books in the house and who sometimes listened to jazz and blues, and who drank wine to excess, and because Israel's own dad was just a boring old accountant and a moderate man and pretty much happy with his lot in life and with his pastel pullovers and his slacks, it was this stubbly, corduroy-wearing, French-film-watching saddo who had come to represent what Israel thought of as the fully-formed adult male: a copy of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue and empty wine bottles and the smell of freshly ground coffee; his friend's dad had made north London seem like the Left Bank, which was where Israel had always assumed he would end up himself, sitting at a café table eating croissants and writing meditative works of philosophy.

But instead he was here, in Tumdrum, in his lodgings, in the converted chicken coop on the Devines' farm, and he looked down at the ground, down past his big white buttery belly and his cords—an old pair of Mr Devine's, phosphorescent cords, cords with a nap and shine like the glint of green on mouldy ham—and there were empty wine bottles stacked everywhere in the room, under the bed and on the dresser—Tumdrum not having yet caught up with recycling—and he had to admit, as he was getting older he was becoming partial to a bit of Miles Davis himself, and he liked his coffee in the mornings just so, if he could have got hold of fresh coffee in the mornings. He wasn't even thirty and he'd become his best friend's dad.

Mr. Dixon Disappears
A Mobile Library Mystery
. Copyright © by Ian Sansom. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Ian Sansom is a frequent contributor and critic for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The London Review of Books, and The Spectator and a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. He is the author of nine books including Paper: An Elegy, and the Mobile Library Series.

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