Review: The Archivist by Rex Pickett

☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

When archivist Nadia Fontaine is found dead of an apparent drowning, Emily Snow is hired by Regents University to finish the job she started–to organize and process the papers of Raymond West, a famous Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has been short-listed for the Nobel.

Emily’s job comes with its inherent pressures. West’s wife, Elizabeth, is an heiress who’s about to donate $25 million to the Memorial Library–an eight-story architectural marvel that is the crown jewel of the university. The inaugural event in just a few months will be a gala for the Who’s Who of San Diego to celebrate the unveiling of the Raymond West Collection and the financial gift that made it all possible.

As Emily sets to work on the West papers, it begins to dawn on her that several items have gone missing from the collection. To trace their whereabouts, she gains unsupervised access to the highly restricted “dark archives,” in which she opens a Pandora’s Box of erotically and intellectually charged correspondence between Raymond West and the late Nadia Fontaine. Through their archived emails, Emily goes back a year in time and relives the tragic trajectory of their passionate love affair. Did Nadia really drown accidentally, as the police report concluded, or could it have been suicide, or, even worse, murder? Compelled to complete the collection and find the truth, Emily unwittingly morphs into an adult Nancy Drew and a one-woman archivist crusader on a mission to right the historical record.

Twisting slowly like a tourniquet, The Archivist turns into a suspenseful murder mystery with multiple and intersecting layers. Not just a whodunit, it is also a profound meditation on love, privacy, and the ethics of destroying or preserving materials of a highly personal nature.



Guest Reviewer Sara’s Thoughts:

Being a bibliophile, I was intrigued with the story line and I enjoyed getting details about Emily’s history at the beginning.  I felt like I already knew her well as the story progressed.  The same attention to detail was given to Emily’s role in her new job, which was essential to the narrative.  Each office interaction gives readers (and Emily) a reason to question Emily’s co-workers motives.

The core characters were each uniquely vital to each other, with their different personalities creating tension both good and bad, though they were a little predictable and one note.  I loved how the story was told from Emily’s and Nadia’s first person perspectives; both being articulate, intelligent, passionate and vulnerable.  I also enjoyed the setting in San Diego as I am very familiar with the area. 

Overall, The Archivist had much that was personally engaging for me, but the story was a long one and I felt like it could have been told well in half the volume.

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