“An archives encapsulates an overlapping set of stories. Each of these tells one thread of a narrative, and the researcher pieces these together to create a cohesive approximation of the past. Rex Pickett, in his novel The Archivist, creates a fictional archives, one populated by archivists who act and speak as real archivists do, and his multifoliate story replicates the process of archival research. The reader accumulates the novel’s multiple streams of action, wondering where the novel will turn next, always working toward a final resolution that reveals itself with surprising force.” — Geof Huth, chief records officer, NY State Unified Court System
Fiction/Mystery & Detective
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.
“As deeply, disturbingly immersive as the archive at its heart.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The Archivist is a powerfully engrossing mystery/thriller by author Rex Pickett. A departure from the Sideways trilogy, Pickett gracefully draws the reader into a web of love, obsession, paranoia, betrayal, and the written word. The plot draws the reader in subtly, and shortly thereafter, they are as consumed as Emily in discovering a dark reality.” —San Francisco Book Review
“Never underestimate an archivist. Rex Pickett’s The Archivist is a haunting and sometimes heartbreaking exploration of the truths and power records hold, the insidiousness of their erasure and destruction, and the redemption that can be found in their restoration and preservation. It captures the archival thrill of the hunt, the pursuit of all the pieces that will tell a story, no matter what the consequences. In this shattering thriller, Pickett’s Emily Snow shows that archivists are detectives, and relentless ones, at that. The Archivist surfaces the hidden and often ignored labor of the archival profession. Pickett captures the joys, hazards, and annoyances of being an archivist and renders a closely observed depiction of the politics and pecking orders of libraries, special collections, and archives. Archivists are at turns eavesdroppers and voyeurs, sometimes bonded to their subjects. Although often conflicted by competing obligations, they are driven by a singular mission to ensure that truths are preserved.” —Caryn Radick, digital archivist, Rutgers University
“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.