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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 ...
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!
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
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
Posted September 30, 2010
The book was satisfactory, not great, until the ending. It sort of fizzled out. At least it was an easy read. I don't feel too bad about wasting my time on this.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 17, 2010
This is the second book in Ian Sansom's Mobile Library Series. I read the fourth book first, The Bad Book Affair. The characters were very clearly laid out and you could picture the vignettes in your head. Shortly after finishing the book I ordered the rest of the series. I found all these books very entertaining. I particularly liked the interactions between Ted and Israel. I highly recommend these books for anyone who wants a little humor and and just plain entertainment.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.