8 new books we recommend this week
THE DAMAGE, by Caitlin Wahrer. (Pamela Dorman / Viking, $ 27.) A tight-knit Maine clan surrounds the wagons when one of their own is brutally attacked after a flirtation at a bar gone awry. With this mystery in the big heart of a small town – and its summary in the style of Agatha Christie – Wahrer is establishing herself as a new writer to watch. “I like dark stories that let in a bit of daylight,” writes Elisabeth Egan in her latest Group Text column, “and this is one of them. Wahrer characters go through hell but still manage to be human and deserve to be known.
THE DEVIL’S PLAYBOOK: Big Tobacco, Juul and the addiction of a new generation, by Lauren Etter. (Crown, $ 29.99.) Resembling a USB stick crossed with a crack pipe, the Juul is an electronic nicotine delivery system that was sold as a way to keep smokers away from cigarettes, but instead created a new generation of addicts. Etter shares how a Silicon Valley startup came to resemble the Big Tobacco it hoped to disrupt. Our reviewer, Sheelah Kolhatkar, calls it a “deeply related and enlightening book” with “a rich narrative that rewards patience. The story of Juul’s rise and fall teaches us something about greed, capitalism, policy failure, and a particular cycle in American business that seems destined to repeat itself.
THE WORDS THAT MAKE US: America’s Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840, by Akhil Reed Amar. (Basic, $ 40.) Amar argues in this compelling account that the Constitution of the United States was born out of conversations and debates among the drafters – and that those conversations continue to this day. “Amar is not a representative of the theory of the great man of history,” writes Adam Cohen in his review, “at least as far as the key documents of early America are concerned. He strongly suggests that America as a whole – through its great national conversation – did more to write the Declaration of Independence than Jefferson, and more to write the Constitution than Madison. … In addition to educating Americans engaged in this discussion of their rich constitutional heritage, the book has a generous spirit that can be a much needed balm in these troubled times.
INCREASE IN MALIBU, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. (Ballantine, $ 28.) In the sun-kissed, windswept sequel to Reid’s “Daisy Jones & The Six,” four surfing siblings prepare for their annual, 24-hour late-summer party, with detours to their tumultuous pasts. . “Because the novel begins with a short, ominous chapter reminding us that ‘it’s in the nature of Malibu to burn,’ we’re ready,” Elinor Lipman writes in her review. “We wait for the party to ignite, wondering who among the drunk, drunk or marauding guests or family members will cause the inevitable.” Surfing, she adds, “saves siblings, and Reid knows the sport. Its descriptions and its jargon ring a bell for this authentic non-surfer reader, initiated, without forcing.
THE THOUSAND CRIMES OF MING TSU, by Tom Lin. (Small, Brown, $ 28.) Lin’s confident debut novel follows a Chinese-American assassin on a quest to save his wife during the construction of the transcontinental railroad. The book buzzes with vivid descriptions of a harsh landscape. “Lin’s prose captures the terrifying, repetitive power of nature,” writes Chanelle Benz in her review. “Her story is a new old tale: partly a vengeance fantasy, partly a classic Old West bloody tale. In this book, things come back – people, oceans, violence – but remembering is a choice and the body bears the cost. “