The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections
by Eva Jurczyk
Release date: January 25th, 2022
I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk from Net Galley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.
…I particularly love the authentic protagonist, Leisl, whom I found to be an incredibly relatable character…
When I noticed this book on Net Galley I was thrilled, a biblio-mystery set in Toronto, what could be better? Librarian Leisl Weiss, close to retirement, has been forced to step-in as interim director of the rare books department at a Toronto university when the director, and her immediate boss suffers a stroke. One of her first items on her agenda as acting director is to prep an exhibit highlighting the incredibly rare Plantin Bible set. When she begins to tackle her duties, she cannot seem to find the rare bible volumes and begins searching everywhere, attempting to determine where her boss could have put them for safe keeping. With the department on alert, they search everywhere only to realize that the volumes are nowhere to be found in the library and must have been stolen. The image conscious president of the university is relentlessly pushing Leisl to get results to appease the many donors of the library. On the one hand he emphasizes the need for the donor’s confidence, and on the other, the need for discretion, forbidding her to involve the police. The staff begins to turn on each other and tensions mount as fingers are pointed and innuendos made. When a professor is working on a research project another book is found to be a fake adding to Leisl’s already hectic life. Leisl, worn down and tired, makes a decision when a co-worker and friend disappears, Leisl is forced to think the unthinkable and contact the police and the investigation takes them in an odd direction.
The author is brilliant at helping the reader is gain insight into Leisl’s thoughts, in particular, about aging and feeling invisible, we see the evolution of her relationships as well as emphasis on the plight of those whose loved ones are suffering from mental illness.
I have to say debut author Eva Jurczyk doesn’t disappoint, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a well-written, authentic feeling story filled with multi-faceted characters as well as an intelligent and intriguing plot. I really enjoyed the plot, the twists, the turns which surprised me at the ending. I particularly love the authentic protagonist, Leisl, whom I found to be an incredibly relatable character. I loved this book and would highly recommend it!