Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Bad Book Affair-Ian Sansom

The Bad Book Affair
Ian Sansom
Harper, Jan 19 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061452017

Mobile librarian Israel Armstrong reaches Tumdrum, in Northern Ireland to allow locals to borrow books. The next day, Israel is open for business thanks to his coop mate Ted’s nagging. Fourteen year old Lyndsay Morris borrows an adult only Roth’s American Pastoral that she knows her parents especially her politically ambitious father Maurice would ban from their home.

When Lyndsay disappears, the local cops and the media believe Israel abducted her. Library director Linda Wei holds Israel culpable for lending a bad book to a child. Tabloid journalist Veronica threatens to turn him into red meat for a pack of rapid reporters and Maurice goes after him as a tool to regain his lost political seat. His traveling partner in the chicken coop Ted throws him out into the cold suggesting he get to work.

If you seek a strong amateur sleuth, don’t bother with the Bad Book Affair as the whodunit investigation is at best a modest proposal. However, if you seek a terrific satire that skewers the lofty affectations and posturing of political, media, and religious leaders by lampooning their holier than thou prejudices and sham social issues (for instance ban the book), than The Book Stops Here. Fans who enjoy a wild witty swift impaling of the self-aggrandizing will want to read the latest adventures of the innocent Israel.

Harriet Klausner

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