The books we love coming out this week include new titles by Elizabeth George, Alafair Burke, and Christopher Leonard.

Find Me

Alafair Burke. Harper, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-285336-3

The fate of Hope Miller, as her friends in Hopewell, N.J., know her, drives Edgar finalist Burke’s scintillating sixth novel featuring NYPD Det. Ellie Hatcher (after 2014’s All Day and a Night). Fifteen years earlier, Manhattan defense lawyer Lindsay Kelly pulled Hope, who had lost her memory, out of an overturned vehicle on a road near Hopewell. Lyndsay became Hope’s best friend, mentor, and protector. Now, in search of a fresh start, Hope moves to East Hampton, Long Island. Lindsay’s fears that her friend will be lost without her are quickly realized after Hope disappears, the only clue a drop of blood matching a DNA sample related to a Wichita, Kans., serial killer. The subsequent death of an East Hampton businessman leads the police to believe Hope is not a victim but a villain. Enter Ellie, whose late father was so obsessed with his investigation into the Wichita serial killer that he died by suicide. While Hope and Lindsay’s deep friendship takes center stage, Ellie’s intelligence, insight, and lingering grief over her father will keep readers turning the pages. Appealing characters match the meticulous plotting. Burke reinforces her place in the top rank of suspense writers.

The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy

Christopher Leonard. Simon & Schuster, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-1-9821-6663-2

Years of economic policy that flooded the financial system with money has made the economy more fragile and unfair, according to this probing history. Business reporter Leonard (Kochland) recaps the revolutionary measures the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank has instituted from the 2008 crash up through the Covid-19 collapse: a policy of keeping interest rates close to 0% to promote growth, and a program of “quantitative easing,” which has injected trillions of dollars, created out of thin air, into the economy to further stoke it. The result, he argues, is asset bubbles in everything from stocks to risky investment instruments called collateralized loan obligations, which could burst and tank the economy if the Fed closes the money spigot; meanwhile, the inflation of asset prices lets the asset-owning rich increase their wealth as the middle class falls further behind. Leonard shrewdly dissects the policy wrangles roiling the Fed behind its facade of technocratic consensus—he presents a sharp riposte to glowing accounts of former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s leadership—while offering a trenchant analysis of how the Fed controls and misshapes the economy. The result is a timely and persuasive challenge to the Fed’s new economic orthodoxy.

Something to Hide: A Lynley Novel

Elizabeth George. Viking, $29 (704p) ISBN 978-0-593-29684-4

In bestseller George’s superlative 21st novel featuring Acting Det. Chief Supt. Thomas Lynley (after 2018’s The Punishment She Deserves), Lynley and his team, including Det. Sgt. Barbara Havers, look into a particularly sensitive murder case during a London summer “hot enough... to make an iguana sweat.” When an undercover officer who was investigating illegal Nigerian “medical services” offered at a women’s health clinic in Hackney is found in a coma in her flat, she’s taken to the hospital, where she dies. The autopsy reveals that a blow to her head fractured her skull. No one is in the clear as the case widens and the lies pile up. Everyone has something to hide, including the immigrant Bankole family forcing an arranged marriage on their 18-year-old son, Tanimola, and a horrific surgical procedure on their eight-year-old daughter, Simisola, in order to get a “good bride price.” Established fans will be glad to see Lynley’s lifelong friends, photographer Deborah St. James and her husband, Simon, lend support. Racism, sexism, class, blackmail, and cultures clash in explosive ways. This is a memorable addition to a series that has aged well and promises more. 

Beyond Possible: One Man, Fourteen Peaks, and the Mountaineering Achievement of a Lifetime

Nims Purja. National Geographic Society, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4262-2253-5

Nepalese climber Purja debuts with a propulsive account of successfully climbing the “Earth’s fourteen Death Zone peaks” in record-breaking time. In 2018, after years of serving as a Gurkha soldier in the British military, he embarked on a “wild effort” to reach the pinnacles of the world’s 14 tallest mountains in fewer than seven months, an attempt that would “shatter” the previous world record of seven years. With the summits of each rising above 8,000 meters, Purja writes, “the air is so lacking in oxygen that human bodies and brains wither and fail.” His exhilarating narrative captures the physical and mental toll he experienced while careening down the sides of mountains and ascending lethally steep slopes in “brutal, whiteout conditions.” In addition to recounting topping Everest in Nepal and K2 in Pakistan, Purja writes memorably about his time in the Nepalese regiment of the British Armed Forces, reflecting fondly on a career that both sharpened his skills as a climber—giving him “access to a variety of highly specialized [mountain warfare] courses”—and deepened the pride he felt around his culture, an aspect of mountaineering that has often gone overlooked. This is a fascinating and inspiring look at a life lived on the edge.

Our Kind of People

Carol Wallace. Putnam, $17 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-54002-1

The latest from Wallace, whose nonfiction work To Marry an English Lord partially inspired Downton Abbey, delivers a smart, perfectly executed look at New York City in the Gilded Age. The surprising marriage between socially impeccable debutante Helen Maitland and successful tradesman Joshua Wilcox is happy until 1874, when Helen must launch their teenage daughters into society. Alice, their fetching youngest, attracts suitors despite her ambiguous pedigree, while the oldest, Jemima, is bookish, opinionated, and striking rather than pretty. Further complicating the girls’ debuts, Joshua’s vision of masterminding a trans-Manhattan elevated railway is draining his modest capital. Convinced of the venture’s promise, he uses their home as collateral for a short-term, high-interest loan from speculator Felix Castle. When Joshua defaults, Castle—a shrewd and cultured young businessman with a rakish reputation—forecloses. The family moves in with Helen’s rigidly traditional mother, and Helen’s trust in Joshua fractures. Jemima, meanwhile, finds Castle irresistible despite his contribution to their woes, and Alice prefers a disabled widower to the stylish youths her mother finds suitable. As each woman struggles, plans to bring Joshua’s company public may transform their finances again. Wallace does full justice to the era’s conventions, and her characters’ attempts to navigate meteoric social and technological change are recognizably and deliciously modern. Fans of Daisy Goodwin and Curtis Sittenfeld will relish this.

The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality

Mike Sielski. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-27572-1

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Sielski (Fading Echoes) presents a riveting chronicle of the life of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant (1978–2020) from his youth up to when “great things” were just beginning to happen. Using previously unpublished interviews between Bryant and Jeremy Treatman—a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer who went from covering Bryant’s promising high school basketball career to becoming one of his “most trusted confidants”—Sielski tracks “the tail of Kobe’s comet” from the 1980s, when he played under the tutelage of his father, former Philadelphia 76ers star Joe Bryant, to leading his Pennsylvania high school basketball team to a championship, up to the pivotal moment when he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of a passionate athlete with an oversize ego and ambition matched by generational talent, accompanied by shyness, and a regular-kid persona off the court. In highlighting others who’ve influenced Bryant—among them his 10th grade English teacher, Jeanne Mastriano, who taught him and his classmates to “develop flexibility and confidence” through storytelling—and not neglecting his occasional bad behavior, such as yelling at one coach as a kid, Sielski lends pathos to a celebrity player known for stoicism in the face of pain. Fans will relish this nuanced take on an oft-overlooked part of the legend’s remarkable story. 

Battle of the Linguist Mages

Scotto Moore. Tordotcom, $28.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-76772-1

Moore (Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You) takes readers on a roller coaster of weird in this wildly entertaining gonzo adventure. For the past eight years, Isobel Bailie has dominated the leaderboards of Sparkle Dungeon, a popular series of medieval rave-themed VR games. Her expertise and skill, especially with the game’s voice-based spell-casting system, earns her a job with Sparkle Dungeon’s PR firm as a senior marketing specialist. But her real assignment is to master “power morphemes,” a sequence of linguistic units capable of accomplishing a vast array of magical feats. That’s just the tip of an increasingly impossible iceberg, as Isobel learns that a conceptual thunderstorm is poised to destroy reality and winds up caught between a ruthless cabal of powerful people and a group of spell-casting anarchists, each with a conflicting plan to save the world. Moore’s tale, adapted from several of his earlier plays, is audacious, ambitious, and metatextual, packed with such wild concepts as sentient punctuation marks, musical weapons, and multilayered reality. While the story sprawls at times, Moore never loses sight of his characters’ humanity or the underlying sense of adventure and humor. Readers will love it as much for the outlandish ideas as for the narrative complexity and sense of fun.

Was It Worth It? A Wilderness Warrior's Long Trail Home

Doug Peacock. Patagonia, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-952338-04-5

Naturalist and explorer Peacock (In the Shadow of the Sabertooth) presents a captivating retrospective on his life in the wild. Using vivid imagery, he reflects on humanity's relationship with the natural world, his tour of duty in Vietnam, living among Grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park, and, appropriately, mortality. Each memory encapsulates Peacock's profound compassion for humans and animals alike, and his deep sense of responsibility. After attending to "too much collateral damage—that cowardly phrase they apply to the pile of small, dismembered bodies after a botched air attack," as a Special Forces medic in Vietnam from 1965 to 1968, Peacock "applied the anger I had built doing that to the defense of wild things." Readers will appreciate his madcap yet reverential takes on nature; recalling a close encounter with a snake on the Missouri headwaters, he wonders, "How the hell could anyone believe humans were the center of the world when facing poisonous reptiles, grizzlies... or polar bears on equal terms and neutral turf?" While ruefully aware of the prospect of catastrophic global warming ("The beast of today is climate change"), Peacock's "heightened awareness" of the beauty of the wild never wanes. This passionate work is a welcome and worthy addition to the growing canon of environmental literature.