Summer lethargy often inspires the greatest adventures or the worst tragedies—or both. In Visitation Street (Dennis Lehane Books, $15.99) June and Val look to escape the sun-baked oven of their Red Hook neighborhood with a nocturnal rafting trip. The next morning, Val washes ashore alone and dazed—with no idea where June is. What happens next affects the entire community in several different ways. One local merchant tries to unite the neighborhood. Richard, who rescued Val, takes an uncomfortable stock of his past failures. Meanwhile, Val is left desperately praying for a miracle to bring back her friend. Visitation Street is the second book published under Dennis Lehane’s imprint and, like the accomplished literary mystery writer, Ivy Pochoda makes the setting as much a character as the people. Red Hook’s crumbling warehouses, creaking docks, and the smells of diesel and salt water combine to create a symphony for the senses. This is a rare mystery that entrances us with its sense of place while keeping us engaged in its suspenseful tale.
Lexicon (Penguin, $16), Max Barry’s heart-racing and thought-provoking futuristic thriller, will have you looking at words in a whole new way. Combining recent neurological discoveries with the far older knowledge that language has a deep and abiding power, Barry constructs an ingenious maze for the no-privacy age—a puzzle worthy of some future Indiana Jones. Pulsating on the edge of paranoia, Lexicon unfolds a scenario reminiscent of the Tower of Babel, one that is rooted in our current age of digital media. Into this story—which takes place uncomfortably close, in an exclusive Arlington, Virginia, school—Emily and Wil, recently graduated “poets” of a particular sort, prepare to engage in the next war of the words.
Paige works in the black market and what she trades in is magic; her specialty involves scouring other people’s minds for information. Alarming as this is, it is far less disturbing than the world of 2059 which, suspicious of magic, locks up those that possess it, forcing Paige and her kind into an outlaw existence. The Bone Season (Bloomsbury, $17) is the first installment of a new series by the exciting young Oxford author Samantha Shannon, and when the action enters those hallowed halls, it makes moves that will cause you to spend your hard-earned vacation hours turning these pages—tracking the secret societies, brutal hierarchy, and the magic that summons our most ancient understanding of the mythic while coexisting in a world of tablets and human programming. The Bone Season and its sequels will surely take you on an exceptional journey.