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LOS ANGELES — Over his three-plus decades running police departments in Boston, New York City and Los Angeles, Bill Bratton branded himself as America's top cop. At the time, that was generally a good thing: He won accolades for overseeing big-city police departments during a historic decline in crime throughout the U.S., ushering in changes that reshaped how the job is done and confronting ...

"The Cape Doctor" by: E.J. Levy; Little, Brown (352 pages, $25.95) ——— When we consider the differences between men and women, thinks Jonathan Perry, the remarkable doctor of E.J. Levy's new novel, we lose sight of similarities too easily. "Once the skin is peeled back, the distinctions are few," Dr. Perry says. "Save for the reproductive organs, one cannot tell man from woman — one cannot say ...

"Ivory Shoals" by John Brandon; McSweeney's (250 pages, $26) ——— In a recent interview with his publisher, McSweeney's, John Brandon explained that writer Tom Franklin once told him on the subject of creating convincing historical fiction, "If you don't know what was involved in going to the bathroom, you're not ready to write scenes in that time period." The earthy vividness with which he ...

"Strange Flowers" by Donal Ryan; Penguin (230 pages, $17) ——— "Strange Flowers," Donal Ryan's slim, quietly powerful fifth novel, begins with the first of three disappearances. Moll Gladney, a young woman in her early 20s, raised "without boldness or cheek or any impudent forwardness," is suddenly gone from her parents' little cottage in County Tipperary. Last seen boarding the bus bound for ...

"Phase Six" by Jim Shepard; Alfred A. Knopf (256 pages, $25.95) ——— The other day, my husband took in the latest COVID-19 statistics and wondered: What if this were a really big one? Someone less grounded in history and science and, well, reality, might say, Huh? This isn't big? That someone, however, is not Jim Shepard, who's clearly been thinking along these lines, and probably well before ...

"The Passenger" by Chaney Kwak; Godine (160 pages, $18.95) ——— If last year's news reports of COVID-19-contaminated cruise ships stranded offshore for weeks didn't put you off cruises forever, then surely Chaney Kwak's memoir, "The Passenger," will. That wasn't exactly Kwak's intention. A freelance travel writer for the New York Times and other publications, in March 2019 Kwak was assigned to ...

"Kin" by Shawna Kay Rodenberg; Bloomsbury (352 pages, $28) ——— Reading Shawna Kay Rodenberg's "Kin" is like watching anything made by director David Lynch. After each sentence, paragraph or turn of the page, I expected the likes of the Lady in the Radiator from "Eraserhead" to show up, all puffy-cheeked and singing eerily about heaven, or any of the backwards-speaking characters in "Twin ...

"Our Woman in Moscow" by Beatriz Williams; Morrow (448 pages, $27.99) ——— The 50 years leading up to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 could be considered the golden age of espionage. As for novels written during that time, the Cold War category pretty much belongs to men: John Le Carré, Ian Fleming, Len Deighton, Robert Littell and Charles McCarry being the best known. And while spy novels ...

"Diary of a Young Naturalist" by Dara McAnulty; Milkweed Editions (222 pages, $25) ——— I was sitting in a sunny spot on my porch reading Dara McAnulty's "Diary of a Young Naturalist" when a shadow passed the window, briefly blotting out the light. I looked up to see a hawk swoop into our maple tree, a small wriggling creature trapped in its claw. What kind of hawk? I don't know. What kind of ...

"Heaven" by Mieko Kawakami; Europa Editions (176 pages, $23) ——— About halfway through Mieko Kawakami's slim new novel, "Heaven," a confounding change occurs. The unnamed narrator, a 14-year-old boy, foreshadows the coming turn at the end of his school break: "I felt something happening in my body. Whatever I saw, whatever I thought about, no longer felt real." He is hesitant to return to ...

"Dark Shapes" by Kavita Bedford; Europa Editions (224 pages, $17) ——— Kavita Bedford's accomplished debut novel is narrated by a woman who is nameless but by no means faceless. Over the course of a year and a quarter, the 29-year-old candidly recounts key developments in her life in Sydney. She opens up her world and tells of her activities with friends and partners, her solo recreational ...

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In Percy’s immersive and imaginative sci-fi thriller, Minnesota is the epicenter of a phenomenon that’s created a “geopolitical crisis” for the world and “existential quandary” for humanity. Northfall, Percy’s fictional town in the Manitou Range, is “making bank” from omnimetal. It’s an alien matter, a powerful energy source like nothing in the known universe, but it’s infected more than the land. Mother Gunderson once was a cashier at Farm and Fleet. Now, she’s a “drug lord or a pope or an amulet” sitting on incalculable wealth. Percy’s novel is a clever amalgamation of speculative fiction and family drama, of supercharged characters and regular folk, encompassing various viewpoints in a highly cinematic narrative.

"Mercury Rising" by Jeff Shesol; W.W. Norton (400 pages, $28.95) ——— "He's back," exulted the Miami News when John Glenn emerged from Friendship 7 after orbiting the Earth three times. America, the Miami Herald implied, was back, as well. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung agreed: The free world need "no longer stare as if hypnotized at Soviet space successes with pricks of doubt in their ...

'The Other Passenger' By Louise Candlish Every day, a group of commuters booze at the bar on a Thames ferry as they shuttle back and forth to their jobs in London. This little group is connected “by [their] childlessness” and their “freedom to put [themselves] before everyone else.” They’re self-indulgent and narcissistic. They’re Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Ross and Rachel if Gillian Flynn or ...

'The Guide' By Peter Heller Peter Heller’s riveting thriller is set in the American wilderness, but the threats gathering around Jack, the young fishing guide of the title, come from man, not nature. Jack has been hired by a fishing club in Colorado that caters to wealthy clients. His job: Carry gear, find trout, chat up guests and do whatever he can to make them happy. But after he arrives at ...

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