Our favorite books coming out this week include new titles from Andre Dubus III, Juno Dawson, and Ivy Pochoda.

Such Kindness

Andre Dubus III. Norton, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-324-00046-4
Dubus (Gone So Long) returns with a heartrending account of one man’s desperate quest to retain his sense of goodness under the long shadow of the financial crisis. Fifty-four-year-old carpenter Tom Lowe is near rock bottom. Before the housing crash of 2008, Tom had taken out an adjustable-rate mortgage to finance the construction of a home for his wife and young son. But ballooning mortgage payments, a roofing accident, and a painkiller addiction left him broke in more ways than one. Now, he’s divorced and living alone in subsidized housing. He wants to visit his son, Drew, at college in Amherst, but his car gets impounded for expired plates. To get it back, he begrudgingly lists his carpentry tools for sale on Craigslist, but someone steals them first. The nonlinear narrative of Tom’s ups and downs finds him at one point entertaining a scheme cooked up by his neighbor and only friend, Trina, to steal the credit cards of an elderly woman in their complex, but Tom waffles, earning sour looks from Trina and leading to more soul-searching on his part. As in Dubus’s previous work, the author poignantly portrays his protagonist’s search for redemption, and shows how precarious situations can make people especially vulnerable. There’s a natural free association to the prose, with Tom’s stray thoughts generally leading him to regrets over “reach[ing] for more” than a “two room life,” or wistful memories of Drew before the family fell apart. This is a stirring addition to Dubus’s formidable oeuvre. (June)

The Shadow Cabinet

Juno Dawson. Penguin, $17 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-14-313715-3
The brilliant and fast-paced second contemporary political fantasy in Dawson’s HMRC trilogy (after Her Majesty’s Royal Coven) takes the series to new heights. Ciara Kelly wakes from a 10-year coma and steals the body of her twin sister, Niamh, just before Niamh is set to take the helm as HMRC’s High Priestess. She struggles to navigate Niamh’s interpersonal relationships without revealing her identity, all while piecing together her fragmented memories and battling her own (literal) demons. Leonie Jackman, the founder of an independent coven, races to locate her brother Radley, who left Britain to track down renegade warlock Dabney Hale. Along the way, she becomes entangled in a much larger plot involving a dangerous and powerful magical artifact. Meanwhile, underground witchfinders, in league with Hale, put into motion a plan that threatens all witchkind in the name of “warlock supremacy.” Dawson handles the tricky middle book with aplomb, raising the stakes and deepening the rich worldbuilding without losing sight of the pathos that makes her characters shine. Magic seamlessly weaves with pop culture references, fun soap-operatic twists, and an incisive look at the psychology of violent misogyny. This is the work of a master storyteller. Agent: Katelyn Dougherty, Paradigm Talent. (Jun)

Sing Her Down

Ivy Pochoda. Farrar, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-60848-4
This devastating thriller from Pochoda (These Women) examines the brutal politics inside an Arizona women’s penitentiary and the bleak mid-Covid landscape outside it. The first section focuses on three inmates: Kace, who is haunted by voices of the dead; Florida, a wealthy young white woman who was an accessory to murder, driving the getaway car while high; and Dios, Florida’s former cellmate, who’s determined to make Florida admit she’s no better than anyone else in their situation. Due to the strain of the pandemic, Florida and Dios are released from their sentences early and flee parole on a bus to Los Angeles. On the way, the pair makes one bad decision after another, garnering the attention of Lobos, a detective who wrestles with her own guilt and rage after surviving domestic violence; their explosive interplay takes up the back half of the action. In muscular prose, Pochoda plumbs the psychological depths of her fascinating characters and extracts high drama from their shifting allegiances. This searing, accomplished page-turner deserves a wide audience. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (May)

Girls and Their Horses

Eliza Jane Brazier. Berkley, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-43888-6
Horse mothers put stage mothers to shame in this wildly entertaining thriller from Brazier (Good Rich People). Texas transplants Heather and Jim Parker buy a $28 million house in Southern California, and arrive at the nearby Rancho Santa Fe Equestrian Center at the top of the heap. Heather will do anything to help her young teen daughter Maple win the annual horse show, including engaging in full equine combat with top “barn mom” Pamela and her vicious daughter, Vida. Meanwhile, rumors swirl around Kieran Flynn, the equestrian center’s charming owner and head trainer, and his “implausibly handsome” intern. Suspicious accidents pile up gradually—a horse spooked by spilled soda, a cut stirrup—until somebody winds up dead. Brazier cleverly heightens suspense by declining to reveal the victim’s identity until late in the novel, stacking motives and suspects before she finally hits readers with the gruesome murder. Her characterization impresses, too: the horses emerge as distinctive personalities in their own right as the author nimbly juggles the humans’ scandalous backstories. This is a sparkling addition to Brazier’s impressive career. Agent: Sarah Bedingfield, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (June)

The Talk

Darrin Bell. Holt, $29.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-80514-0
Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Bell, known for his syndicated strip Candorville, delivers an unflinching debut graphic memoir that balances gravity, vulnerability, and humor in relaying his life as a Black man and parent. When he was a child in 1981, a terrifying standoff with a pair of Dobermans left an indelible imprint that became a metaphor for future racist interactions. Later, after Bell’s white mother prohibited him from playing outside with a water gun, she attempted “the talk,” a conversation between Black parents and their children about living while Black. She cautioned, “White people won’t see you or treat you the way they do little white boys.” When he sneaked out the toy regardless, it resulted in a tense encounter with a police officer who seemed to morph into the dogs. (The episode is drawn to evoke the memory of Tamir Rice, who is listed along with other names in a haunting dedication page memorial.) Indeed, racism pervaded Bell’s life into adulthood: he was bullied, surveilled, and falsely accused of delinquency and plagiarism. His career as a cartoonist is a through line, from childhood drawing to his professional impact that garnered hate mail and swayed public opinion with sometimes devastating consequences. Reckoning with his identity during an ongoing history of racialized violence, Bell recounts how his father’s inability to give “the talk” still haunts him and takes on greater significance when Bell’s own son asks about George Floyd. The narrative, drawn awash in a blue hue, artfully interweaves sepia flashbacks and artifacts of 1980s pop culture (from Mr. Potato Head to Star Trek) highlighted with flashes of color. This emotionally striking work is sure to leave a lasting mark. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (June)

Translation State

Ann Leckie. Orbit, $29 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-28971-9
Hugo and Nebula award winner Leckie (Ancillary Justice) returns to the Imperial Radch universe in a staggering standalone novel that follows three people brought together by the mysterious disappearance of a translator. After Enae’s Grandmaman dies, diplomat Enae finds a welcome distraction in an impossibly open-ended assignment to track down a fugitive who disappeared 200 years before the start of the book. Aboard the station Enae is headed to, diplomatic liaison Reet searches for answers about his past as an orphan and adoptee, but finds only further questions. Meanwhile, an attack on juvenile Presger translator Qven, part of a spectacularly weird alien race designed to translate alien Presger into human, derails Qven’s life and ruins their prestigious prospects. When Qven understands what their clade has planned for them as punishment, Qven decides to flee, putting them on a collision course with the other protagonists. It’s exhilarating to see the way these seemingly disparate story lines knit themselves together as all three protagonists become embroiled in a political mess that threatens the treaty that safeguards interspecies coexistence in space. Leckie’s humane, emotionally intelligent, and deeply perceptive writing makes this tautly plotted adventure feel fundamentally true while also offering longtime fans a much anticipated glimpse into the Radch’s most mysterious species. Readers will be thrilled. Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Co. (June)

All the Sinners Bleed

S.A. Cosby. Flatiron, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-83191-0
In this superb thriller from Anthony Award winner Cosby (Razorblade Tears), Titus Crown, the first Black sheriff of Charon County, Va., is investigating a high school shooting that leaves a history teacher and his killer dead. Before long, Titus uncovers evidence that both men participated in the ritualistic killings of seven Black children who had disappeared from the area over the past several years. Recovered video of the children’s murders reveals the involvement of a third party and presumed ringleader: a mysterious figure hidden behind a wolf mask. As Titus and his deputies set out to find the third man, the investigation narrows onto both a local church run by a white racist and on one of the county’s most powerful families, and more murders stack up. The hard-edged storytelling is supplemented by richly developed characters, especially Titus and his family, and Cosby elegantly layers his narrative over Virginia’s racial history, giving the proceedings uncommon emotional depth. This is easily the author’s strongest work to date. Agent: Josh Getzler, HG Literary. (June)

The Paris Daughter

Kristin Harmel. Gallery, $28.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-9821-9170-2
The friendship between two American expats in WWII Paris leads to life-altering events in the powerful latest from Harmel (The Forest of Vanishing Stars). It’s 1939, and Elise LeClair, an American artist married to French artist Olivier, is pregnant with their first child and has newly befriended Juliette Foulon, an American bookseller who is expecting her third child with her husband, Paul. After the Germans invade and LeClairs’ daughter, Mathilde, is born, Elise begs Oliver to keep a lower profile with his work with the Resistance, but in 1941 he’s arrested and beaten to death by the Nazis. His art dealer tells Elise the Germans are looking for her, forcing her to flee and leave Mathilde with Juliette. After the war, Elise finds the Foulons’ bookstore reduced to rubble, and she learns that only Juliette and her youngest child Lucie survived the Allied bomb that killed Paul, their two older children, and Mathilde. Overcome with guilt, Elise struggles to move forward as an artist. Years later, Elise tracks down Juliette and Lucie in New York City, where her effort to seek closure is particularly wrenching. Harmel brings the novel’s historical moments to life through deep research and enriching historical facts, and she conveys an acute sense of her characters’ emotions as they face tragedy upon tragedy. This is Harmel’s best to date. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (June)