Fiction/Mystery & Detective
A November Book Pick from The New York Times
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.
“Take a deep dive in the dark archives with intrepid, independent, indefatigable project archivist Emily Snow as she excavates deadly secrets in Pickett’s exhilarating debut literary thriller. With deftly woven narrative threads and intrigue worthy of Hitchcock, The Archivist is immersive and rewarding. Pickett does for university archives what Raymond Chandler did for LA.” —Janet Somerville, author of Yours for Probably Always
“Road trip! Famously translated to the screen by Alexander Payne, Sideways deserves to be read and relished. Dour Miles and priapic Jack are the Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty of this contemporary picaresque which is by turns hilarious, poignant, and intoxicating.” —Jay McInerney, LitHub, on Sideways
“Suspenseful and haunting, The Archivist carried me away. Rex Pickett’s noir novel of obsessive passion, deadly secrets, and the power of creativity unrolls with relentless, tidal force. Join heroine Emily Snow and take a journey into the dark archives. Enthralling.” —Meg Gardiner, author of the UNSUB series
“Sideways writer Rex Pickett always leaves us wanting more and with The Archivist he delivers. Immersive, wonderful, absorbing, he draws the reader into a geologically nuanced tragic romance that ramifies into something inexpressibly transcendent.” —James Phelan, author of Patriot Act
“Rex Pickett’s beautifully written and tautly structured novel is a slow burn that builds on every page to its searing, emotional conclusion—along the way the author and his characters descend into the dark chasm that often separates art from truth, and sometimes does not.” —Charlie Lovett, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale and Escaping Dreamland
Rex Pickett is a California-based screenwriter and author who is most well known for writing Sideways, the book that became one of the most critically acclaimed and highest-grossing comedy films in Hollywood history. The screenplay for the film was named one of the Top 100 Screenplays of All Time by the Writers Guild of America while the movie itself was nominated for five Oscars (winning Best Adapted Screenplay) and seven Golden Globe Awards (winning Best Screenplay and Best Picture). Pickett also wrote the script for the Oscar-winning Best Live Action Short My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York, and his Sideways sequel Vertical won the Gold Medal for Popular Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The Rex Pickett Papers are in archives at Geisel Library on the campus of his alma mater, UCSD. Pickett resides in Del Mar, California.