This week, we highlight new books from Nina Renata Aron, Brett Cyrgalis, and Karen Tei Yamashita.

The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum.

James Gardner. Atlantic Monthly, $30 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8021-4877-3

Art critic Gardner (Buenos Aires) traces the turbulent history of Paris’s Louvre Museum from fortress to castle to center of France’s cultural universe in this engrossing account, revealing a building that Gardner calls “as great a work of art as anything it contains.” The Louvre was a nexus of French art, architecture, and culture, and Gardner argues that through the Louvre one can see the growth of “Paris itself.” The site was originally a campground 7,000 years ago; in 1191, King Philippe Auguste constructed a fortress there; a century and a half later, Charles V had remodeled the Louvre into a castle, which in the early 16th century became the primary residence for King Francois I. After Louis XIV moved the royal court to Versailles in 1682, the Louvre suffered neglect until it was converted into a public art museum in 1793, during the French Revolution. In elegant prose, Gardner describes how over the next 200 years the Louvre endured constant evolution and construction as its reputation as a leading repository for art treasures grew and it became the world’s most famous museum (“there is something at once presumptuous and miraculous in its emergence out of nothing”). Fast-paced and evocative, this is a must for Francophones as well as art and architecture lovers. (May)

Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings, and Broken Hearts

Kathryn Harkup. Bloomsbury Sigma, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4729-5822-8

Noting that “spectacular deaths, noble deaths, tragic deaths and even mundane deaths” alike appear in William Shakespeare’s plays, chemist Harkup (A Is for Arsenic) analyzes all the gory details in her outstanding study. Harkup presents research not just into the lethal instruments employed by Shakespeare’s characters, but into the hazardous living conditions with which his audience was familiar. The recurrent plagues, terrible weather, and rudimentary medical care of the age, she shows, are all referenced in the plays. If everyday life didn’t do in Shakespeare’s characters, they had hangings (Henry V), burning at the stake (Henry VI, Part 1), beheadings (Henry IV, Part 2), poisonings (Hamlet), and suffocation (Othello) to look forward to. Harkup covers each manner of death from a scientific perspective, speculating on, for instance, what an autopsy of King Lear’s Cordelia would reveal. She also looks at the stagecraft involved in violent Elizabethan productions (sheep’s blood was a popular choice), and devotes an appendix to listing each and every demise in the plays. Fans of the Bard are sure to devour this, but even those with only a passing familiarity with Shakespeare’s oeuvre will find Harkup’s survey tough to resist. (May)

Inge’s War: A German Woman’s Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler

Svenja O’Donnell. Viking, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-984880-21-5

Journalist O’Donnell’s vivid and meticulously researched debut unearths the hidden history of her maternal grandmother’s flight from East Prussia during WWII and offers key insights into the lives of ordinary Germans under Nazi rule. Before 2006, O’Donnell writes, she knew her grandmother, Inge, as an “aloof, somewhat selfish woman, quick in her criticisms.” But O’Donnell’s visit to Kaliningrad, Russia (formerly Königsberg, Germany), the city where Inge lived until she, her parents, and her infant daughter (O’Donnell’s mother) fled the Soviet Army’s advance in 1945, cracked Inge’s reserve and led to a series of revelations about her family’s “apathy” during Hitler’s rise to power, her early adult years in wartime Berlin; her hardships as a refugee in Denmark and northern Germany; and the secret that doomed her relationship with O’Donnell’s biological grandfather, a soldier captured by the Soviets on the Eastern Front. O’Donnell fills in the gaps in Inge’s memories with investigative reporting, historical research, and imaginative recreations of key moments, delivering an incisive and multilayered account of family trauma, the dangers of nationalism and anti-Semitism, and the plight of refugees. This exceptional account transforms a private tragedy into a universal story of war and survival. Agent: Zoë Pagnamenta, the Zoë Pagnamenta Agency. (Apr.)

Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love

Nina Renata Aron. Crown, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-57667-9

Aron debuts with a disturbing, richly conveyed story of dysfunction and warped love. Aron, who always wanted “to be someone’s everything,” met K as a teenager; they dated briefly before he dumped her. Aron went on to marry a stable man with whom she had two children; then K resurfaced years later, and the two began an affair. “Obsessive, unhinged love was simply more love,” was how she saw it. She left her husband to be with K, whose heroin and alcohol use she both enabled and hoped would stop. Aron spellbindingly details her thirst for mayhem (codependents get “bored and antsy” when there is none) and her fixation on K—who depleted her bank account and was physically abusive—around whom her own drinking escalated. Along the way, she discusses the roles women have historically played as caregivers to troubled men, citing such figures as temperance activist Carrie Nation and Lois Wilson, wife of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson. Avon’s account ends with her leaving K and getting sober. “Love is still my drug,” she admits. “The thing I have renounced... is suffering.” Aron’s dark, gorgeously narrated memoir of destructive codependency will captivate readers. (May)

Golf’s Holy War: The Battle for the Soul of a Game in an Age of Science

Brett Cyrgalis. Avid Reader, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4767-0759-4

New York Post sportswriter Cyrgalis takes a fascinating look at where technological innovation and hallowed tradition meet in the golf world. Cyrgalis tackles the debates around theories of coaching, from the traditional one-on-one coaches to those who champion “the proliferation of high-end technology such as ball-flight monitors and 3-D motion analysis.” He writes that “golf has the most extensive and eclectic literature of any sport,” and begins by highlighting two seemingly arcane books that are “paramount to understanding modern golf”—1969’s The Golfing Machine and Golf in the Kingdom, 1972. From there he discusses many aspects of golf, including the relationship between golf and religion as well as the influence New York Yankee Babe Ruth’s swing had on golf. In a chapter on Tiger Woods, he examines how golfers and coaches sought to emulate Woods’s powerful swing, and also notes that Woods’s recent success has come without a technologically minded coach. This fascinating book is an obvious hole-in-one for golfers and their coaches. (May)

The Tourist Attraction

Sarah Morgenthaler. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $14.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-7282-1048-3

A grumpy diner owner and an adventurous waitress on her first vacation in years develop unexpected feelings in Morgenthaler’s thoroughly entertaining debut. Graham Barnett hates running the Tourist Trap, his popular Moose Springs, Alas., establishment famous both for the gimmicky menu items (“Growly Bear” drinks and “reindeer dogs”) and Graham’s surly behavior, which the wealthy visitors to the nearby resort find inexplicably charming. He would much prefer to spend his time working on his chain saw sculptures. But as soon as he locks eyes with the “adorably dorky” Zoey Caldwell, who’s saved up tip money for years for a two-week Alaskan adventure, Graham puts aside both art and business to spend time with her as her tour guide. Though their relationship hits an early hurdle when Zoey mistakes a chainsaw-wielding Graham for a murderer and kicks him in the groin, the chemistry between the two builds at a satisfying pace. Morgenthaler’s descriptions of the scenery are majestic, and her delineation of the friction between the townspeople and the tourists is well done. The quirky supporting characters, including a truck-humping moose, add charm. This sweet, funny tale is sure to win Morgenthaler many fans. Agent: Sara Megibow, KT Literary. (May)

Close Up

Amanda Quick. Berkley, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-9848-0684-0

Quick demonstrates her mastery of sexy and sophisticated romantic thrillers with this superb fourth installment to her Burning Cove series, set in the golden age of Hollywood. Uninterested in a society marriage, heiress Vivian Brazier leaves San Francisco to build a career as an art photographer in L.A., paying the bills by taking headshots for beefcake wannabe actors and racing to crime scenes to shoot exclusives for the dailies. When her knowledge of photography comes in handy in helping the police identify the so-called “Dagger Killer,” Vivian unwittingly makes herself a target of someone who may be the murderer’s accomplice. Private investigator Nick Sundridge is hired by a mysterious third party to protect her, and together they hatch a plot to catch the killer using Nick’s special ability to “see things” in visions and psychic dreams. Quick expertly balances the paranormal intrigue of their investigation with the building attraction between Nick and Vivian while making time for delightful historical details. Readers will revel in the gripping mystery and 1930s glamour of this expertly crafted romance. Agent: Steve Axelrod, Axelrod Agency. (May)

Sansei and Sensibility

Karen Tei Yamashita. Coffee House, $16.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-56-689-578-1

Yamashita (I Hotel) returns with a career-spanning collection of stories originally published between 1975–2019, each of which is in dialogue with the work of Jane Austen. The stories are mostly set in California’s third-generation Japanese Sansei community. “Bombay Gin” is the comic, emotionally charged narrative of a woman locked in her dead aunt’s house who takes inventory of the kitchen, then cooks her aunt’s recipes with expired food. “The Bath” is a moving look at twin girls’ bathing rituals with their family. About half of the stories are micro Jane Austen pastiches—the Emma homage “Emi,” and “Giri & Gaman,” which references Pride and Prejudice, are standouts. “Omaki-San” is the high point, an epistolary sequence inspired by Lady Susan, with letters between family members and friends who live in Japan and the U.S., revealing the thrilling postwar story of a young Japanese woman and her American soldier husband. The collection is rounded off by an amusing inventory of Sansei recipes (instructions for KT’s Crab Miso Bake with Egg: “Offer to guests to test their Asian quotient”) and a timeline of Japanese-American life in America. The range of characters, sparkling humor, connective themes, and creative ambition all showcase Yamashita’s impressive powers. (May)

The Great American Deception

Scott Stein. Tiny Fox, $14.27 trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-946501-21-9

Stein (Mean Martin Manning) delivers a madcap sci-fi take on the hard-boiled detective genre in this fun, near-future romp that’s chock-full of rapid-fire wit, tongue-in-cheek literary allusions, and playful futuristic absurdity. Arjay, a sentient, top-of-the-line coffee machine with an excess of pep, tags along on the cases of old-school PI Frank Harken within the luxurious but dystopian confines of the Great American—a giant, autonomous, U.S.-coast-spanning shopping mall. Though the grumpy gumshoe is not always thrilled by Arjay’s presence, he can’t deny that the bot makes a “damn fine” cup of coffee. When one of the Great American’s inhabitants, Pretty Lovely, hires Harken to find her sister, kidnapped heiress Winsome Smiles, Harken and Arjay are plunged into Great American’s underbelly, where they encounter genre staples including mobsters and incompetent cops. Stein keeps the stakes high and the laughs coming, juxtaposing the gritty mystery and dystopian setting with Arjay’s perky narration to excellent effect. Sure to appeal to fans of Douglas Adams, this zany, uproarious mystery is a constant delight. (May)

Edgar Allan Poe and the Empire of the Dead

Karen Lee Street. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64313-422-2

The ominous prologue of the terrific concluding volume of Street’s Poe trilogy (after 2018’s Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru) takes place in Baltimore in October 1849, just days before the real Poe died. Poe has a vision of his dead wife and an apothecary dispensing poison, which reveals the truth about how he “had finally been murdered and by whom.” Flash back to June. The writer gets a letter from his friend C. Auguste Dupin, entreating him to come to Paris. Dupin needs his help tracking down Ernest Valdemar, who’s responsible for sending Dupin’s grandparents to the guillotine during the French Revolution. When the two friends meet, Dupin tells Poe he’s sure Valdemar forged the letter and had reason to lure Poe to Paris. Valdemar appears to be working with Poe’s nemesis, George Reynolds, whose father was falsely imprisoned for the assaults of more than 50 women that were committed by Poe’s maternal grandparents decades earlier. Street fulfills the promise of the tantalizing opening with a twisty and nail-biting plot. Fans of other superior fictional treatments of Poe will be enthralled. Agent: Oli Munson, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (May)