In this roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife titles, we highlight a story of small-town life, a magical romance, and a breakneck thriller.

The Coal Tower

Tony Gentry

Synopsis: Gentry’s intriguing novel unfolds in Charlottesville, Va., on a late summer day.

PW’s Takeaway: Tension vibrates throughout Gentry’s memorable portrait of a college town.

Sample Line: “Stock still behind the tree, Mosby watches, his jaw trembling, readily grasping the anxiety, the desperate care, of this sleek patriarch.”


Dragon Head

James Houston Turner

Synopsis: Turner returns with his fourth book starring former KGB colonel Aleksandr Talanov.

PW’s Takeaway: Turner’s exciting novel barely pauses for breath.

Sample Line: “Across the street from Wu Chee Ming’s apartment in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong, a woman named Xin Lee stood in the shadows of a recessed doorway.”


Essential Magic

Cara McKinnon

Synopsis: McKinnon blends magic and passion in Victorian England.

PW’s Takeaway: This enjoyable romance will leave readers eager for the next chapter.

Sample Line: “Mal eyed his mother, who still looked like she had stepped in something rank and was trying to pretend it was rosewater.”