The books we love coming out this week include new titles by John Lescroart, Andrew Mayne, and Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg.

The Missing Piece

John Lescroart. Atria, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-9821-7049-3

Bestseller Lescroart’s excellent 22nd Dismas Hardy novel (after 2019’s The Rule of Law) finds Wes Farrell, a defense attorney in the San Francisco law firm in which he and Dismas are partners, in the throes of an existential crisis. Wes no longer wants to defend people he believes are guilty. Meanwhile, Paul Riley is exonerated and released from prison after serving 11 years of his life sentence for the rape and murder of Dana Rush. Shortly thereafter, Paul is fatally shot. Doug Rush, Dana’s father, is assaulted by the police officers who come to interview him; they subsequently arrest him for Paul’s murder. Dismas and Wes agree to defend Doug. When their client disappears after bail is set, Wes hires PI Abe Glitsky to locate him. The plot cleverly entwines the police investigation with Abe’s, keeping readers deliciously off balance with each new possible motive and suspect. Lescroart delves into the concepts of the presumptions of both guilt or innocence while maintaining a fast pace and delivering a finale full of surprises. This long-running series remains as fresh as ever.

Sea Storm: Under Water Investigation Unit, Book 3

Andrew Mayne. Thomas & Mercer, $15.95 trade paper (316p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3223-0

Thriller Award finalist Mayne’s pulse-pounding third Underwater Investigation Unit thriller (after 2020’s The Girl Beneath the Sea) opens with police diver Sloan McPherson and her partner, Scott Hughes, speeding in their rescue boat toward a cruise ship in distress off the Florida coast. The ship is listing, smoke is coming out of the portholes, and there’s an explosion on the bridge. Once aboard, Sloan and Scott help get passengers and crew to safety. Early speculation is a terrorist attack, but no one claims credit. When the FBI takes over, the UIU is pushed aside, but Sloan and Scott continue to look into a local ecoterrorist. Nothing, however, adds up: evidence is contradictory, suspects go missing then turn up dead, and purported thieves repeatedly try to board the stranded ship. As the UIU tries to determine why, powerful foes target the group, putting its future in doubt. The fast-paced plot is filled to the brim with fascinating characters, and the locale is exceptional—both above and below the waterline. One doesn’t have to be a nautical adventure fan to enjoy this nail-biter.

The Hidden Order of Intimacy: Reflections on the Book of Leviticus

Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Schocken, $32.50 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4357-4

National Jewish Book Award winner Zornberg (Moses: A Human Life) follows her volumes on Genesis, Exodus, and the book of Numbers with a stirring examination of Leviticus. Excavating the moral meaning from the “largely legalistic text,” Zornberg identifies the narrative of the Golden Calf as the book’s underlying theme. In it, the Israelites’ worship of the Golden Calf while Moses received the Ten Commandments led to mass executions of the worshippers. Zornberg views this tragedy as illustrative of the book’s central moral insight: “periods of impoverishment [such] as the crisis of the Golden Calf... allow the people to encounter their own depths,” making room for spiritual reinvention out of the disorder of error. Zornberg’s nuanced interpretations reward close study, particularly her observation that “stumbling” is essential to the process of understanding God’s words and “failure is the process by which the Torah becomes real.” This outstanding exegesis builds on its penetrating analysis of the Golden Calf and a surprising roster of sources—including Aristotle, George Eliot, and Sigmund Freud—to arrive at an original and persuasive take on Leviticus. Admirers of Karen Armstrong’s The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts will be richly rewarded.

Mom Milestones: The True Story of the First Seven Years

Grace Farris. Workman, $17.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-5235-1147-1

Farris, a doctor and cartoonist, debuts with a clever illustrated take on first-time motherhood. Each chapter tackles a different phase of becoming and being a parent, including newborn mom, infant mom, toddler mom, and elementary school mom. Farris playfully uses the phrasing of baby books (“At this stage, newborn mom may be able to gaze at the baby, possibly with a confused or bewildered look”) and revels in the absurdity of common parenting advice (a page entitled “Sleep when the baby sleeps” suggests doing so “at a dinner party” or “while you dry your hair”). Bits are repeated in each section, such as annotated anatomical drawings, Mom’s likes and dislikes at each stage (“chasing baby around” is both a like and a dislike at the “toddler mom” stage), what Mom does on the weekend, and notes-to-self. Wry observational humor and self-kindness take the lead, and Farris’s illustrative chops shine (even on the copyright page) with simple linework and a busy but pastel-leaning color palette. Farris successfully upends the idea of a baby milestone tracker by turning it into an often amusing but sincere and affirming take on motherhood. This is a no-brainer for parents of all experience levels.

A Relentless Rake

Anna Harrington. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $8.99 mass market (360p) ISBN 978-1-72824-293-4

Harrington takes her Regency era Lords of the Armory series to new heights with this un-put-downable fourth romance (after An Extraordinary Lord). Alexander Sinclair, Earl of St. James, and his illegitimate half brother, Nathaniel Reed, are tapped by the Home Office to uncover the latest plot by Scepter, a criminal organization dedicated to overthrowing the monarchy. Their only lead is a clue left at a meeting of Scepter’s members: a scrap of paper with obscure calculations, building plans, and the name Everett. Alexander makes the connection to the Everett School, a girls’ school run by mathematician Henry Everett and his sister, Olivia. As he investigates, Alexander can’t help but be intrigued by Olivia’s beauty and intelligence, discovering that she’s the brains behind Henry’s application for a fellowship at the Royal Society. As he grows closer to uncovering Scepter’s plans and the danger increases, so too does the chemistry between Alexander and Olivia, leading both to reveal their deepest secrets and emotional scars. Harrington’s alluring characters and their mysterious pasts easily draw readers into the narrative, while the looming threat of Scepter keeps the pages flying. This may be Harrington’s best yet.

Hakim’s Odyssey, Book 2: From Turkey to Greece

Fabien Toulmé, trans. from the French by Hannah Chute. Graphic Mundi, $29.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-63779-008-3

The harrowing second volume in Toulmé’s Hakim’s Odyssey series (after From Syria to Turkey) provides a rare and detailed account behind the headlines about migrants making dangerous overseas journeys. In the previous volume, Hakim—a young man (interviewed by Toulmé) who fled Syria following its descent into civil war—ended up in Istanbul with his young family but struggled to find work. The stakes are higher in this volume as Hakim strives to protect his family. Now, as his wife and in-laws head to France, a bureaucratic breakdown prevents Hakim and his young son from joining them. Despite numerous attempts to get into France legally, Hakim is thwarted by increasingly frustrating administrative barriers. Out of desperation, he and his young son migrate illegally by boat. It’s here where Toulmé’s storytelling and crisp visual style shines, as Hakim navigates the seedy and opportunistic economy built to profit off tragedy, with illicit taxi services and hotels, and merchants selling ocean survival kits and nautical transportation of uncertain reliability. Toulmé’s work comes alive in the minutiae, and he makes palpable the migrants’ terror as they cross the sea, struggling with failed motors that threaten to strand them and leaky boats on the verge of sinking. This work powerfully brings home for readers the horrors of this global crisis and the impossible choices migrants must make.

Mr. Colostomy

Matthew Thurber. Drawn and Quarterly, $24.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-77046-547-3

Thurber (Art Comic) is at his hilariously surreal best in this collection of his loosely connected daily strips, each page of which was constructed spontaneously. Thurber revisits old characters like talking horse Mr. Colostomy, a detective who investigates, among other things, art crimes. He’s hired to find two children who disappeared, as “when the sun sets [they] become particles.” Thurber alternates between picking up threads of a sort-of plot, but more often this is abandoned to all-out silliness, with flights of fancy that include puns, cultural critiques, and visual gags—sometimes all at the same time, as when longtime Thurber character Groomfiend the mouse detective gets confused why they’re showing old Jem cartoons at an “outrageous” Whitney biennial show, where a reference to Aunt Jemima completes the jokey cultural critique. He turns absurd concepts into bits that are built on their own internal logic, like a bat devoted to science spinning a ludicrous story about partying physicists. Thurber’s art ranges from carefully inked cross-hatching to full-color weekend strips to smudged pencils. While he may defy convention, that’s rather the point of this relentless, wickedly smart comedic assault.

Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home

Eric Kim. Clarkson Potter, $32.50 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-23349-8

Drawing heavily from his Atlanta family’s culinary heritage, New York Times food writer Kim maps out the intersection of Korean and American fare in this bold and delicious debut. The two cuisines merge in dishes like cheeseburger kimbap—invented by Kim when he was 13—and his Aunt Georgia’s soy sauce fried chicken with jalapenos. Spam, widely adored in Korea, is the star of such sweet offerings as maple-candied Spam, as well as tangy dishes, including a Spam, kimchi, and cabbage stir-fry. Described as “the bedrock of Korean cuisine,” kimchi gets its due in a chapter that boasts a classic version perfected by Kim’s mother, as well as variations including naengmyeon kimchi made with Korean radish and “large red apple.” Meanwhile, rice forms the foundation for scrumptious and filling bowls such as jjajangbap with cabbage and peas mixed with fermented black bean sauce. While there’s no shortage of meat and fish recipes on offer, vegetables—especially those grown in Kim’s mother’s garden—reign, serving as the inspiration for a chapter of diverse delights, including gochujang-glazed zucchini with fried scallions. Elsewhere, a sprawling Thanksgiving menu (“the ultimate Korean American feast”) substitutes yangnyeom roast chicken for turkey and employs Korean sweet potatoes in a honey-buttered goguma casserole. Old traditions lead to delicious new flavor combinations in this heartfelt collection.