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8 New Books We Recommend This Week

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THE DAMAGE, by Caitlin Wahrer. (Pamela Dorman/Viking, $27.) A close-knit Maine clan circles the wagons when one of their own is brutally attacked after a bar flirtation gone bad. With this small-town, bighearted mystery — and its head-spinning, Agatha Christie-style wrap-up — Wahrer establishes herself as a new writer to watch. “I love dark stories that let in a little bit of daylight,” Elisabeth Egan writes in her latest Group Text column, “and this is one of them. Wahrer’s characters are going through hell but still manage to be human and worth getting to know.”

THE DEVIL’S PLAYBOOK: Big Tobacco, Juul, and the Addiction of a New Generation, by Lauren Etter. (Crown, $29.99.) Resembling a USB drive crossed with a crack pipe, the Juul is an electronic nicotine delivery system that was sold as a way to get smokers to move away from cigarettes but has instead created a new generation of addicts. Etter recounts how a Silicon Valley start-up came to resemble the Big Tobacco it hoped to disrupt. Our reviewer, Sheelah Kolhatkar, calls it a “deeply reported and illuminating 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 MADE US: America’s Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840, by Akhil Reed Amar. (Basic, $40.) Amar argues in this probing account that the United States Constitution emerged out of conversations and debates among the framers — and that those conversations continue to this day. “Amar is no exponent of the great man theory of history,” Adam Cohen writes in his review, “at least when it comes to the key documents of early America. He strongly suggests that America as a whole — through its great national conversation — did more to draft the Declaration of Independence than Jefferson, and more to write the Constitution than Madison. … In addition to educating the Americans engaged in this discussion about their rich constitutional legacy, the book has a generous spirit that can be a much-needed balm in these troubled times.”

MALIBU RISING, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. (Ballantine, $28.) In Reid’s sun-kissed, windswept follow-up to “Daisy Jones & The Six,” four surfing siblings get ready for their annual end-of-summer party over a period of 24 hours, with detours to their tumultuous past. “Because the novel begins with a short, nicely portentous chapter reminding us that ‘it is Malibu’s nature to burn,’ we are prepared,” Elinor Lipman writes in her review. “We wait for the party to ignite, wondering who among the drunken, stoned or marauding guests or family members will bring about the inevitable.” Surfing, she adds, “saves the brothers and sisters, and Reid knows the sport. Her descriptions and lingo sound to this nonsurfing reader authentic, insider-ish, without straining.”

THE THOUSAND CRIMES OF MING TSU, by Tom Lin. (Little, Brown, $28.) Lin’s assured debut novel follows a Chinese American assassin on a quest to save his wife during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. The book hums with striking descriptions of an unforgiving landscape. “Lin’s prose captures the terrifying, repetitive power of nature,” Chanelle Benz writes in her review. “His story is a new old narrative: part revenge fantasy, part classic bloody tale of the Old West. In this book, things return — people, oceans, violence — but remembering is a choice and the body bears the cost.”


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