Watchman

Ian Rankin's early novel, "Watchman," followed the first of his books starring Inspector John Rebus, the whiskey-tinctured, smoke-cured misanthrope of Auld Reekie. Sunny only by comparison with Rebus, Miles Flint, another Scot, is an MI5 agent who lives in the London of the mid-1980s, the heyday of IRA bombings. Shortly after we meet him, dyspeptic with midday drink and loath to go home to his jittery marriage, he botches a job and a man is assassinated. The next thing you know, Flint's investigation into what went amiss begins to turn up inconvenient details and he is shunted off to Northern Ireland on a caper that gets fishier and fishier. Treachery is everywhere. We are in a fallen world-though one with electric suspense and a good deal of action. Rankin's righteous pleasure in scenes of urban sordidness, institutional self-preservation, and the suave hypocrisy of life's winners is gratifyingly evident in this youthful, fleet-footed offering. -

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.