The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections: A Novel (Paperback)
February 2022 Indie Next List
“Missing manuscripts, disappearing librarians, and university politics — Leisl Weiss is tasked with dealing with it all. The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections hits the mark. No book lover could ask for more!”
— Jann Griffiths, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, CA
A missing valuable manuscript, a department director who has just had a stroke, one staff member who has been acting strangely and then disappears, and a temporary director who has to juggle administration, staff and a possible theft. These are the elements of Eva Jurczyk's debut novel. She gives us some insight into the characters and their histories but doesn't answer everything you might want to know about them. In spite of that I enjoyed the mystery adventure and the resolution.— Patty
"With its countless revelations about the dusty realms of rare books, a likable librarian sleuth who has just the right balance of compassion and wit, and a library setting that is teeming with secrets, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a rare treat for readers. I loved this book!"—Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Anxious People meets the delights of bookish fiction in a stunning debut following a librarian whose quiet life is turned upside down when a priceless manuscript goes missing. Soon she has to ask: what holds more secrets in the library—the ancient books shelved in the stacks, or the people who preserve them?
Liesl Weiss long ago learned to be content working behind the scenes in the distinguished 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 unexpectedly stops showing up to work. 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 care for and revere them—shakes the very foundation on which she has built her life.
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a sparkling book-club read about a woman struggling to step out from behind the shadows of powerful and unreliable men, and reveals the dark edge of obsession running through the most devoted bookworms.
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"Jurczyk's unique debut has plenty for bibliophiles to relish, from dark stacks to precious manuscripts. Readers will sympathize with Liesl and her desperation to keep her head above the demands of a position she didn't ask for while untangling the intricate threads of the mystery." — Booklist
"Toronto librarian Jurczyk's first novel is a valentine to librarians that doesn't shy away from their dark sides...[The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is] the perfect gift for librarians and those who love them—and doesn't that include just about every reader?" — Kirkus Reviews
"With its countless revelations about the dusty realm of rare books, a likable librarian sleuth who has just the right balance of compassion and wit, and a library setting that is teeming with secrets, The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is a rare treat for readers. I loved this book!" — Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
"Filled with characters that resonate, glimpses into the reality of libraries and academia, and enchanting descriptions of rare books, this debut from a librarian will captivate bibliophiles." — Library Journal
"This intricately woven literary mystery brings readers into the cut-throat world of academia where rare book collections compete for money and prestige, and where those in power will do whatever it takes to protect their institution. A strong female protagonist and complex relationships drive this impressive, genre-bending debut." — Wendy Walker, international bestselling author of Don't Look for Me
"Who doesn't love a mystery involving rare books and bad librarians? This clever, deftly written story has all that and more. A great pleasure from beginning to end." — Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author
"An unflinching appraisal of the personal and professional effects of a woman's aging into invisibility." — Publishers Weekly
"Eva Jurczyk's debut mystery...is as winning as I had hoped. It's a pleasure to watch Liesl grow more confident and assured on every page. Jurczyk, herself a librarian at the University of Toronto, skillfully captures the tendency in academia to prioritize institutional reputation over uncovering truths." — New York Times
"The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk is a mystery that's tailor made for bibliophiles." — PopSugar