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The Archivist

by Rex Pickett




Archivist Emily Snow is driving down the coast on her way to Regents University Memorial Library in San Diego California to complete the job of organizing the papers of Raymond West, a famous Pulitzer Prize winning author. Her predecessor Nadia Fontaine had died in an apparent surfing accident several months earlier. The temporary position is a fabulous opportunity but comes with lots of pressure.

The job must be completed quickly, since West has just been shortlisted for the Nobel Prize. West’s wife, a philanthropist is also about to donate $25 million to the renovate the eighth floor of Library. The donation and the papers will be revealed at a gala set in just a few months, But as the meticulous Emily begins the archival process she notes that several documents have gone missing from the collection. In her search for the missing documents and her perusal of the “dark archives” she uncovers extremely personal correspondence between West and Nadia as well as a book they seemed to have authored together. The correspondence leads Emily to believe that Nadia’s drowning may not have been the accident everyone believes. So what should she do now…


THE ARCHIVIST is a multi-layered murder mystery that librarians and book lovers might just adore. The setting, suspense and ethics of the archival process are primed and ready to draw you in like a moth to a flame.

The story is a long one at 700 pages and it occasional gets bogged down in minutia. While the writing is descriptive at points it’s a little much. The opening chapter has Emily driving down the California Coast Highway and at times I didn’t think she, nor I would ever make it to her destination.

Emily’s character is rather quirky because of a selective sound sensitivity affliction know as misophonia. A barking dog, ticking clock, or dinging elevator drives her to distraction, frustration, and at times, even rage. As a result she has gravitated to the seemingly quiet of libraries. She is also so meticulous and will leave no document untouched or unfound. She’ll accept no help and must be in total control of her project, and is quite rough around the edges when dealing with co-workers.

Author Rex Pickett skillfully transports us into the archive files and has woven Emily and Nadia’s experiences into a dramatic high stakes tale. Pickett is an American novelist best known for his his novel Sideways.

Thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Blackstone Publishing

Published November 9, 2021

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