Bearskin is an evocative, mesmerizing thriller set deep in the Appalachian wilderness. Determined to lay low from a Mexican Sinoloa cartel killer bent on revenge, Rice Moore gets a job as a warden of a wilderness preserve. But when bear poachers start hunting the property, Rice reverts to his most basic, primal self to catch them, and putting his secrecy on the line. With brilliant and spare prose, the haunting, lush and unknowable Virginia forest preserve is the real protagonist of this expertly woven debut. A perfect read for the camping and hiking trip you were planning in the woods this summer.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec embarks on his thirteenth case in Glass Houses (Minotaur, $28.99). The latest installment of Louise Penny’s award-winning mystery series is a wonderful example of a book that not only builds on and extends an established character but also stands alone as a satisfying narrative in itself. In the Montreal suburb of Three Pines, a mysterious, hooded figure dressed in black suddenly appears one day on the town commons. Motionless and silent, watching carefully, he seems like a dark conscience passing judgment on an unknown crime. When a murder soon follows, Inspector Gamache and his team of detectives must solve the crime while also concealing certain details in order to lure in bigger drug kingpins. Glass Houses is told from Gamache’s perspective nearly a year after the murder, and the truth is slowly revealed during a court case as pieces of the mystery come to light and the tension builds to a thrilling climax. Beautifully written, with smart and likable characters, and grounded in snowy and scenic Quebec, this is a mystery that even non-mystery readers will love.
Kurt Vonnegut: Complete Stories (Seven Stories, $45) gathers in one volume all the short fiction written by one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. This beautiful tome holds nearly 1,000 pages’ worth of short stories Vonnegut wrote from the 1940s to his death a decade ago, including five previously unpublished works. Featuring a foreword by Dave Eggers and section introductions by Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield, editors and long-time friends of Vonnegut, the book is organized thematically along the lines of Romance, War, Future, Science, and other broad topics. Vonnegut was prolific in many genres, and his work has inspired several generations of new writers, such as myself. His stories stand up through troubled times, and his morality and clear prose continue to resonate.