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The Delegates choice - Ian Samson

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Ian Samson

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      17.01.2012 13:07
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      Thoroughly enjoyable

      The delegates choice is the third novel in the mobile library series of mysteries, they are based on the travails of Israel Armstrong a thirty something vegetarian librarian who drives a mobile library van in and around Northern Ireland. The prevailing themes in the book is a left thinking intelligent modern man being placed in the more traditional conservative world of Northern Ireland, it tends to emphasise the differences between Israel and the world he both lives in and wishes to live in. This novel is the first to return to England after introducing Israel, Ted Carson who drives the mobile library and the large derelict mobile van.

      This novel seeks out to destroy Israel's perceptions of his former life and how over the previous nine months he had changed from the city boy to a man living in a beautiful but slower pace of life in rural Northern Ireland. The book begins with the head of the library service giving the go ahead for the pair to drive to the UK mobile meet and to look at new vans for the mobile library, Israel is ecstatic at returning to London but Ted can't bear losing his beloved van.

      The book then becomes in some ways a journey, the van goes across on the ferry to Liverpool then we have a slow drive down to London. Ted is in a bad mood due to the replacement of his van but Israel is very excited with the prospect of meeting his old friends, his ex-girlfriend and having coffees and a bagel in the cafes of his previous life. The book of course takes great pleasure in slowly unpicking his perceptions of a former life, we meet his mother who takes a fancy to Ted, we meet his friends who have moved on and published books or had children, and we visit his previous workplace which has changed names and no-one works there who can remember Israel. Slowly we see that how Israel has perceived his pre-Northern Ireland life was always subtly wrong, so the cafe's he visited as a youngster aren't there anymore and no-one's bothered that they have gone replaced by Starbucks. We also find out that his friends have become successful and richer since he left and Israel slowly realises that his time in Northern Ireland has divorced him from his London life and he has changed as has London life.

      For Ted the gruff Irishman who thinks with his fists also has demons in his past to overcome, he is shocked by finding out that his cousin who moved to London in the 60's is both very rich and is gay. He also has to look at his views and relationships with gypsies and travellers after his beloved van is stolen from outside Israel's mum's house. The book only introduces the mystery component after about 80 pages of a 280 page book, the van is stolen and Israel and Ted are on the case to return the van to its rightful owners. The rest of the book is the search for the van; we visit dodgy car dealers, travellers and finally Stonehenge on summer solstice. The book comes to a conclusion with the van, Israel, and Ted all returning back to Northern Ireland changed for the better.

      As with the previous novels, the book is short and snappy and can be read from cover to cover in little more than 2-3 hours. The book features lots of conversations between Israel, Ted and the people they meet in the book and the conversations tend to make the pages fly past so each line in the page is literally one person's spoken word in the conversation. So if one says how you are, the other says fine that would be two lines in the page and so on. This style of writing makes the stories fly past but does mean that the book's readability is based on the skills of the conversations the main characters have, fortunately the author manages to make Israel fun, witty but desperate and Ted challenging, funny and full of charm.

      As with the previous two novels I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, Israel and Ted are a fine double act and the travails of a pair of mobile librarians is a fun read through-out.


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