In this week’s spring crop of new paperbacks: two local authors, and a long wait comes to an end.
“Us Against You” by Fredrik Backman (Washington Square Press, $17). “If Alexander McCall Smith’s and Maeve Binchy’s novels had a love child, the result would be the work of Swedish writer Fredrik Backman,” wrote Washington Post reviewer Bethanne Patrick. This novel, a sequel to Backman’s popular 2017 book “Beartown,” centers on a small town obsessed with hockey. Patrick wrote that it “takes a lyrical look at how a community heals, how families recover and how individuals grow.”
“Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion” by Michelle Dean (Grove Atlantic, $17). Dean’s group biography of a coterie of female writers — among them Hannah Arendt, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Mary McCarthy, Dorothy Parker and Pauline Kael — “has the feeling of a cocktail party at which several people drink too much, nearly everyone talks too loudly, and no one really likes anyone else,” wrote Rachel Cooke in The Guardian. Nevertheless, she calls it “a great and worthy project: a primer for those for whom these names are new; a sustaining reminder for those already familiar with them. You put it down feeling steadier, more determined.”
“The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore” by Kim Fu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99). Seattle-based author Fu, whose 2014 debut was the Edmond White Award-winning “For Today I Am A Boy,” set this haunting novel up and down the West Coast, centering it on an incident at a Northwest summer camp affecting five 10-year-old girls. “Fu lets what happened unfold in bits and pieces,” I wrote last year, “interspersed with long sections following each individual camper as she grows up, forming a life around that empty place in her past.”
“The Punishment She Deserves” by Elizabeth George (Penguin, $17). George, who lives on Whidbey Island but sets her best-selling mystery series in England, celebrates an anniversary here: This is the 20th volume of the delicious Inspector Lynley series, featuring the unlikely Scotland Yard duo of posh Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and sardonic Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers. Here, the irresistible Havers takes center stage for much of the book, investigating a suspicious death in a medieval British town. Thick, dense and a delight.
“Mr. Flood’s Last Resort” by Jess Kidd (Washington Square Press, $16.99). I loved Irish author Kidd’s whimsical debut novel “Himself”; this one, in which a young, vision-seeing woman becomes a caretaker to an eccentric hoarder, is likewise at once mystery, ghost story and magical tale. “It won’t be like any other novel you’ve read this year — or maybe ever — but it’s worth it,” wrote Kirkus Reviews. (Also: My mom loved it.)
“A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles (Penguin, $17). A hardcover best-seller since its publication in 2016, Towles’ enchanting novel — about a Russian count on house arrest in the sprawling Metropole Hotel in 1920s Moscow — is finally out in paperback. I wrote last year about how the elegance of the narration pulled me in, “a distinctive voice both remote and intimate, wry and sentimental, telling us of both great events (the book is an offhand primer on midcentury Russian history) and everyday miracles.”