Author: Eva Jurczyk
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press on Jan. 25, 2022
Source: Poisoned Pen Press
Book Rating: 7/10
What holds more secrets in the library: the ancient books shelved in the stacks or the people who preserve them?
Liesl Weiss has been (mostly) happy working in the rare books department of a large university, managing details and working behind the scenes to make the head of the department look good. But when her boss has a stroke and she’s left to run things, she discovers that the library’s most prized manuscript is missing.
Liesl tries to sound the alarm and inform the police about the missing priceless book but is told repeatedly to keep quiet to keep the doors open and the donors happy. But then a librarian goes missing as well. Liesl must investigate both disappearances, unspooling her colleagues’ pasts like the threads of a rare book binding as it becomes clear that someone in the department must be responsible for the theft. What Liesl discovers about the dusty manuscripts she has worked among for so long—and about the people who preserve and revere them—shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life.
Interesting, sobering, and mysterious!
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is an engaging mystery that transports you to the special library division of a university in Toronto and into the life of Liesl Weiss, a middle-aged woman who, after her boss and department manager suddenly has a stroke, must return from her sabbatical just in time to discover the lastest acquisition, The Plantin Polyglot Bible to be missing, and a fellow employee to be acting strangely and then suddenly disappear.
The writing is sombre and slow-burning. The characters are flawed, self-involved, and morally ambiguous. And the plot, although slow in parts, is a unique whodunit full of amateur sleuthing, suspects, lies, deception, mental illness, secrets, deduction, and the intricacies of obtaining and maintaining old manuscripts.
Overall, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is an intriguing, gloomy, intricate tale by Jurczyk, that at its heart, is a true love letter to book lovers and librarians everywhere.
This book is available now.
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Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.