In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a campus thriller, a mythological fantasy, a Manhattan Mafia story, and others.

Ivory Tower by Grant Matthew Jenkins

Synopsis: A professor facing dismissal following an affair with a student stumbles onto a large and insidious network of corruption and vice.

PW’s Takeaway: An intriguing, smoothly written first novel from a professor at the University of Tulsa.

Comparable Title: Francine Prose’s Blue Angel

Sample Line: “Margolis is transported to the middle of a desolate field landscape in middle America. The overcast grey sky and leafless trees give a sense of endless winter cold.”

Jack of Thorns: (Inheritance #1) by A.K. Faulkner

Synopsis: A florist recovering from heroin addiction is visited by a manifestation of the Celtic fertility god Cernunnos.

PW’s Takeaway: Faulkner kicks off the Inheritance series with a captivating love story pulsing with complex Celtic mythology.

Comparable Title: Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince

Sample Line: “It was beautiful, there was no denying it, but beauty came with a price. Such was nature. The Moreton Bay Fig was a parasitic species with a highly aggressive root system.”

Hazel and Holly by Sara C. Snider

Synopsis: Two witch sisters seek to free their dead mother’s soul.

PW’S Takeaway: Moral ambiguity, humor, and heart combine in this fun, fulfilling romp.

Comparable Title: Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood

Murder in Black Tie by Sara Rosett

Synopsis: Olive Belgrave solves a new mystery in the fourth High Society Lady Detective series.

PW’s Takeway: Pacing is snappy, the plot is just complicated enough, and the period details are spot-on.

Comparable Title: M.A. Comley’s Murder at the Wedding

The Family Jewels by Vincent Graziano

Synopsis: Graziano takes a darkly humorous look at the Lower Manhattan Mafia milieu.

PW’s Takeaway: A picaresque account of the vicissitudes of a crime family.

Comparable Title: Tod Goldberg’s Gangsterland