This week, we highlight new books from Kevin Nguyen, Kathy Reichs, Max Allan Collins and more.

You Will Never Be Forgotten

Mary South. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-53836-1

South debuts with a playful, astute collection about modern alienation. In “Keith Prime,” a nurse devastated by her husband’s death works at a “Keith Fulfillment Center,” where she goes against regulations by becoming attached to one of the Keiths, clones born and put into perpetual sleep before being harvested for body parts, “scooped out like ice cream from a bucket.” In “The Age of Love,” elderly men at an assisted living center begin calling phone sex lines, affecting the lives of the staff, including complicating the relationship between the narrator, who works at the center, and his girlfriend. “Frequently Asked Questions About Your Craniotomy,” takes the form of a q&a in which a neurosurgeon’s unsettled personal life bleeds into her answers. In the title story, a woman who works at “the world’s most popular search engine” killing offensive and violent content begins to follow—first online, then in the real world—a man who raped her. In “Not Setsuko,” a woman raises her second daughter as an exact replica of her first child, who died at nine years old, down to killing the family’s cat on the day the first daughter lost her cat (“She loved the cat the second time as much as the first”). South’s stories are both funny and profound, often on the same page, but perhaps her best skill is plumbing the intricacies of loneliness, expertly dissecting what that term means in a technology-driven world. This is an electric jolt from a very talented writer. (Mar.)

New Waves

Kevin Nguyen. One World, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-984855-23-7

Nguyen’s stellar debut is a piercing assessment of young adulthood, the tech industry, and racism. Margo, a 20-something black engineer, and Lucas, a 23-year-old Asian customer service rep, bond over the ingrained racism at their tech startup employer, a messaging app called Nimbus, in New York in 2009. When Margo’s strong opinions lead to her dismissal, she drunkenly convinces Lucas to help her steal the usernames and passwords of Nimbus’s users. Margo soon regrets this, but nevertheless apparently leverages the data to land her and Lucas jobs at Phantom, a rival startup with an app that immediately deletes read text messages. Margo dies in a car accident, and Lucas is distraught and afraid, wondering if the accident was really an accident or something more sinister. He steals Margo’s laptop and decides to contact Jill, a struggling writer whose work Margo spent hours providing feedback on. He and Jill stumble into a relationship while Phantom’s popularity among teenagers pushes Lucas into a new role implementing a monitoring process contrary to the lofty ambition of the founders. Lucas’s scramble to meet the growing intensity of his professional and personal lives, as well as his jealous conviction he knew Margo best, leads to a series of missteps with rippling consequences. Nguyen impressively holds together his overlapping plot threads while providing incisive criticism of privilege and a dose of sharp humor. The story is fast-paced and fascinating, but also deeply felt; the effect is a page-turner with some serious bite. (Mar.)

Do No Harm

Max Allan Collins. Forge, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-7829-3

MWA Grand Master Collins’s Zelig-like PI, Nate Heller, who’s tackled most of 20th-century America’s greatest unsolved mysteries, gets involved in the Sam Sheppard murder case in his superior 17th outing (after 2016’s Better Dead). When the Cleveland doctor reported having found his wife, Marilyn, bludgeoned to death in their bedroom in 1954, Heller happened to be in the city, spending time with his old friend Eliot Ness, who invited him along to the crime scene to help determine whether the killing was the work of the serial killer whom the two men had been chasing for years. The m.o. established that another murderer was responsible, but Heller noted multiple oddities, including the failure to preserve the crime scene and indications that Sheppard’s family was covering up his guilt. The doctor was eventually convicted of the crime, a verdict many felt the evidence didn’t support. Three years later, Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner asks Heller to reassess the case, a request that leads to a creative solution of the notorious mystery. This is a superior and inventive effort that shows the series still has plenty of life. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Mar.)

Dinner in French: My Recipes by Way of France

Melissa Clark. Clarkson Potter, $37.50 (336p) ISBN 978-0-553-44825-2

James Beard Award–winning author Clark (Dinner) reminisces about her annual summer family vacation in France and growing up in Brooklyn, and here combines her food experiences from both places to deliver a superb addition to her cookbook repertoire. Whether they are classic French staples such as Nicoise salad and scalloped potato gratin, or inspired twists on the classics such as wine-braised chicken with orange and olives or crème fraîche caramels, each recipe is a hit. Some of her other original, French-inspired creations include cornmeal and harissa soufflé; roasted eggplant with herbs and hot honey; and burrata with brown butter, lemon, and cherries. Clark also provides dozens of helpful make-ahead tips: the béarnaise sauce that is served with seared steaks, for example, can be made up to five days in advance, and the roasted vegetables for the tomato, eggplant, and zucchini tian can be made two days in advance. Equally inviting are her introductions to each recipe, which are filled with fun anecdotes (“It took a long time for me to agree to taste a snail”) and even more helpful tips (“If tarragon isn’t your favorite herb, you can use chives”). This remarkable volume will entice avid home cooks to return to it time and again. (Mar.)

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope

Ed. by Patrice Caldwell. Viking, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-984835-65-9

Lovers of Octavia Butler will find her spirit in this smoldering anthology of 16 short stories that center black female and gender nonconforming characters within fantasy and speculative fiction. Written by authors of varying backgrounds, including Elizabeth Acevedo, Justina Ireland, and Rebecca Roanhorse, the stories cover timely themes such as colorism, mental health, ancestry and tradition, and sexual and gender identity. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s folkloric “The Rules of the Land,” about the child of a sea entity and a human, considers bearing the weight of a parent’s decisions. Ibi Zoboi’s “Kiss the Sun” and Ashley Woodfolk’s “The Curse of Love” explore self-love and self-preservation amid sacrifice. Some are lighthearted, such as Ireland’s “Melie” and Danielle Paige’s “The Actress,” while others skew heavier, such as the editor’s “Letting the Right One In,” which calls upon queer black women to embrace and explore their identities. Caldwell writes in the introduction, “Black people have our pain, but our futures are limitless. Let us, together, embrace our power.” These stories do, exploring the beauty, bravery, fear, history, and empowerment of being black. Fiercely fantastical and achingly honest, this book delivers a more inclusive means of self-discovery. Ages 12–up. Agent: Pete Knapp, Park Literary. (Mar.)

A Conspiracy of Bones

Kathy Reichs. Scribner, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9821-3888-2

Bestseller Reichs’s excellent 19th Temperance Brennan novel (after 2015’s Speaking in Bones) finds the forensic anthropologist at her breaking point after a series of traumatic events, including the murder of her boss, who was succeeded by a woman who regards Brennan as persona non grata; her mother’s cancer diagnosis; and the discovery that Brennan herself has a potentially fatal aneurysm. She begins to doubt her own senses when she thinks she spots a man in a trench coat lurking outside her Charlotte, N.C., home in the middle of the night, but fears that it might have just been a hallucination. She’s then rattled to receive grisly images on her phone of an eviscerated male corpse without a face. Hooked by the mystery of who sent the pictures and why, Brennan risks her professional standing by pursuing the matter, despite the opposition of Charlotte’s new medical examiner. The trail takes multiple unexpected turns as Brennan pursues leads connected to bioweapons, a ferry sinking, and the Dark Web, in this crackerjack puzzle. CSI junkies who haven’t read Reichs before will be hooked. (Mar.)

The Mountains Sing

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. Algonquin, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61620-818-9

Nguyễn’s lyrical, sweeping debut novel (after the poetry collection The Secret of Hoa Sen) chronicles the Tran family through a century of war and renewal. As middle-aged writer Hương revisits her native Hanoi in 2012, she reflects on the lessons shared by her late grandmother Diệu Lan (“The challenges faced by Vietnamese people throughout history are as tall as the tallest mountains. If you stand too close, you won’t be able to see their peaks”) and chronicles their journey of survival during the Vietnam War. Hương was 12 when bombs encroached on Hanoi, where she lived with Diệu Lan after her mother, Ngọc, a physician, left to search for her father, a soldier in the NVA. After an evacuation to the mountains, Diệu Lan “opened the door of her childhood” to Huoung with stories of being raised by a wealthy family to pursue an education and resist old customs such as blackening her teeth. Diệu Lan also describes the harrowing truth of the Việt Minh Land Reform, during which her family’s land was seized in the spirit of resource distribution, encouraging her to question what she’s been taught in schools. Grandma and Hương return to Hanoi and find their house decimated, and Ngọc, who survived torture and rape while imprisoned by South Vietnamese soldiers, comes home without Hương’s father. In a subtle coda, Nguyễn brilliantly explores the boundary between what a writer shares with the world and what remains between family. This brilliant, unsparing love letter to Vietnam will move readers. (Mar.)

Dragon Hoops

Gene Luen Yang. First Second, $24.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-62672-079-4

As a comic book enthusiast and graphic novelist, Printz Medalist Yang has always been more partial to superheroes than to sports. But in 2014, as a teacher at a Catholic high school in Oakland, Calif., Yang is drawn to a story about the school’s basketball team—the Dragons. Rumor has it that under the current coach, a former player at the school, this year’s team will surely grab the state championship. Shadowing the group for an entire season, Yang interviews players and coaches to uncover the talented students’ stories and the program’s allegedly shadowed past. Using documentary-style storytelling, Yang serves as both narrator and a character, alternating player backstories and the Dragons’ 2014 season with interstitials about the sport’s beginnings and early tensions, historical and present-day discrimination (Black Lives Matter, Sikh persecution following the partition of India), and Yang’s own work-life balance. Using a candid narrative and signature illustrations that effectively and dynamically bring the fast-paced games to life, Yang has crafted a triumphant, telescopic graphic memoir that explores the effects of legacy and the power of taking a single first step, no matter the outcome. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)

Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing

Maryla Szymiczkowa, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Mariner, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-358-16146-2

Set in 1893 Cracow, this exceptional debut and series launch from Polish author Szymiczkowa (the pen name of writing duo Jacek Dehnel and Piotr Tarczynski) introduces Zofia Turbotynska, a 38-year-old professor’s wife, who finds household management, novel reading, and the search for social prestige insufficient outlets for her prodigious energy. At a nursing home run by nuns that she visits to promote a charitable cause, she becomes involved in the search for a missing resident, Antonina Mohr, a judge’s widow. Zofia questions the home’s staff and residents, hiding her unofficial investigation from both the mother superior and her husband. After Mohr’s suspiciously pink-hued corpse is found in an attic, Zofia pressures the resident doctor until an autopsy reveals cyanide poisoning. The strangling of one of the home’s impoverished residents complicates the puzzle. The preface offers helpful context on place and period, while the translation showcases the novel’s deliciously ironic voice. Fans who like colorful locales and tongue-in-cheek mysteries will eagerly await Zofia’s next outing. (Mar.)