The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk
Publishing: January 25, 2021 by Poisoned Pen Press
Reason I chose to Read this Book: Well first, it’s about books. Then there’s the fact that the author is a fellow Canadian.
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk is a mystery novel.
First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
My Synopsis: (No major reveals, but if concerned, skip to My Opinions)
Liesl Weiss was on sabbatical from the university library to write her own book, but was called in to handle Christopher’s job while he recovers from a stroke. No one is really happy with the choice of Liesl being his replacement. Even Liesl isn’t sure. She has always worked behind the scenes to ensure Christopher looked good, but taking the reins is not very comfortable.
Everyone wants to see Christopher’s new acquisition…a rare multi-volume Plantin Polyglot Bible, which was printed between 1568 and 1572. However, the newly acquired manuscript is stuck in the safe. Christopher, the keeper of the combination, had his stroke before telling anyone of the new combination. When the safe is eventually opened, it is empty. The manuscript is missing.
Liesl wants to involve the police, sure it has been stolen. No one wants her to do this, especially the president of the university who is in the middle of a major fund-raising campaign. It won’t look good if they can’t hold onto their inventory.
When an employee of the library goes missing, Liesl has her hands full. Between trying to find the missing manuscript, the missing employee, the nit-picking of the other employees, and another department wanting to carbon-date another valuable manuscript, she is at a loss as to what to do next.
I was so excited to read the debut novel of a fellow Canadian.
First, I’m not a big fan of the cover….and the title is a little long. Yes, I am nit-picking.
Then, I could not relate to the main character (although kudos to the author for picking one who is close to retirement age), and I didn’t like any of the other characters either. I wanted to quit 10% in. I kept setting it down so that I could pet the dogs, or check my email, or clean…..this continued until about the 55% mark, at which point I began to be at least a little interested in the conclusion. This is too long to be bored and disinterested in a book.
The book frequently touched on mental illness, anxiety, and women trying to assert themselves in a male dominated world (it didn’t happen). It was about secrets and lies, and judgemental people. It is about drinking to excess, and affairs. It also looked at being so self-centered that you don’t notice the world around you. I still didn’t like the characters, and I struggled to even feel sorry for them. It was a rather depressing read.
The premise was great, and the mystery was good. The book went back and forth in time lines, and that was done well. To most mystery readers, the identity of the perpetrator will be a no-brainer early on, but there were enough suspects to keep some guessing. If only I had cared…
So yes, I was disappointed. However, the writing was okay, and the explanations given for the uneducated in rare books (me), was well done. I will watch this author.
Read: January, 2022
Favorite Quotes from The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
“The suits in the room were expensive, but one of these posh people was sure to ejaculate in the stairwell before the event was over. Nothing in the library was as it seemed.”
About The Author: Eva Jurczyk is a Canadian author living in Toronto Ontario. She is also a librarian at the University of Toronto. Eva has a BA in Professional, Technical, and Business Writing from York.
*** Photo taken from GoodReads
Check her out:
I have also reviewed this book on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4399587260
Have you read it? Do you plan to? Tell me your thoughts…do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Either way, I’d love to know.