The Department of Rare Books…

Speaking of women in libraries…this seems to be the time of year to read and review books about women in libraries, especially mysteries about them.

After The Woman in the Library, my next example is The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, a first novel by Eva Jurczyk. Although it is in part about rare books and special collections, as the title promises, it is actually much more about librarians, interactions among them, and academic politics. The location is a barely fictionalized version of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library of a barely fictionalized University of Toronto. The fictional one lies in your imagination; the real one looks like this:

As is the case in many mysteries, every character has a secret. They are well delineated, even if they aren’t particularly likable. As is standard in novels that use the literary device of focusing on a particular occupation, the reader does learn quite a bit about rare books—auctioning, authenticating, preserving, and so forth—but all that is pretty much background.

So are book lovers the intended audience, particularly lovers of rare books? I don’t know, of course, but I suspect it helps if you, like me, are a book lover. If you aren’t, no worries; you can treat it just like any other mystery.

Categories: Books