10 New Books We Recommend This Week

THE DECAGON HOUSE MURDERS, by Yukito Ayatsuji. Translated by Ho-Ling Won. (Pushkin, paper, $16.) Ayatsuji’s landmark 1987 mystery takes its cues from Agatha Christie’s locked-room classics. The members of a university detective-fiction club spend a week on a remote island, drawn there because of a spate of murders the year before. Their curiosity will, of course, be their undoing. “Ayatsuji’s skillful, furious pacing propels the narrative,” Sarah Weinman writes in her latest crime column. “This is a homage to Golden Age detective fiction, but it’s also unabashed entertainment.”

GHOSTS OF NEW YORK, by Jim Lewis. (West Virginia University, paper, $22.99.) Lewis’s haunting novel is built of vignettes whose links become gradually clear, involving a dealer in Indigenous artifacts, the Ivy-educated scion of a West African family, an East Village street kid with a pure singing voice and a photographer just back from a decade abroad. “The pulsing metropolis at the heart of ‘Ghosts of New York’ is so overwhelming in scope and impervious to circumstance it’s a wonder the citizens that populate it stand any chance of attaining happiness or fulfillment,” David Goodwillie writes in his review. “And still they try. … A kind of ethos emerges from the urban cacophony: We are all connected in our disconnection, our solitude, our heartache, our longing. We are united by the city.”

LOVE IN COLOR: Mythical Tales From Around the World, Retold, by Bolu Babalola. (Morrow/HarperCollins, $25.99.) In most of its 13 stories, Babalola’s debut recasts traditional folk tales and myths. The golden thread woven throughout is the power — the necessity — of being seen: Here, the monster is less likely to be a dragon than a withholding partner. “In telling these stories, Babalola herself becomes the seer and the seen, subversively providing a corrective to both the Western idea of who gets to indulge in love for love’s sake and whose myths are worthy of retelling,” Alyssa Cole writes in her review.

THE PREMONITION: A Pandemic Story, by Michael Lewis. (Norton, $30.) Lewis, whose book is among the first to take account of the coronavirus pandemic, is interested in its early days, and especially in those people who saw the warning signs before anyone else. The central lesson of his book is that beating a pandemic means acting before the danger is clear. “Lewis brings a welcome gimlet eye to the Trump era, when government officials abused by Trump were instinctively deified by liberal Twitter and cable TV,” Nicholas Confessore writes in his review. “But the lessons of ‘ The Premonition’ apply to more than just the C.D.C. — they tell us why government bureaucracies fail. The problem wasn’t just in Washington, or with Trump. The bureaucratic disease of under-reaction, Lewis argues, runs deep in America’s fragmented, underfunded health system.”

HOT STEW, by Fiona Mozley. (Algonquin, $26.95.) Mozley’s second novel features a group of London sex workers fighting an eviction order, but pans out to include local bums, pious liberal protesters and greedy TV executives — virtually the entire city — in its gently satirical gaze. “Mozley’s interest is in agency — specifically, how it cuts across class, a vibrant reboot of that ancient British hang-up,” Emma Brockes writes in her review. “The novel is so precise and granular in its evocation of London that it made me thoroughly homesick while reading it. And Mozley is very good on the degree to which circumstance shapes interior life.”

Must Read