Not who dunnit, but why.

WHAT I LOVED

BY SIRI HUSTVEDT

At first glance, this is a literary novel about art and friendship. Art historian Leo Hertzberg first encounters the work of artist Bill Wechsler in the mid-1970s and becomes his earliest admirer. Hustvedt's rich and illustrious descriptions of Wechsler's work are enrapturing, as are the parallel love stories of the men as they embark on marriages. But the story transforms into a literary thriller as Wechsler's son, Mark, grows older and more disturbing. As Hertzberg tries to unravel the dark shadows of his best friend's son, he simultaneously grapples with his own shadows. Hustvedt (

The Blindfold

and

The Enchantment of Lily Dahl

) draws an emotionally taut landscape amid New York's underground art scene.

THE DOUBLE BIND

BY CHRIS BOHJALIAN

From the opening pages of

The Double Bind

, writer Chris Bohjalian (

Midwives

and

Trans-Sister Radio

) creates a sense of suspense and unease. College student Laurel Estabrook is viciously attacked while riding her bicycle. From then on, she becomes quiet and more withdrawn, devoting herself, after college, to her job at a homeless shelter. But Laurel's past and present begin to collide as she devotes herself to investigating the secrets behind a box of photographs that belonged to Bobbie Crocker, a homeless man at the shelter, who has recently died. Subsequently,

The Double Bind

excavates mysteries from the 1920s, while exploring questions about mental illness and contemporary society.

DEVIANT BEHAVIOR

BY MIKE SAGER

Prostitutes. Drugs. Politics. It sounds like last week's headlines, but these things also are the backdrop for journalist Mike Sager's debut novel,

Deviant Behavior

. Sager has previously mined contemporary society for his best-selling nonfiction (

Scary Monsters and Super Freaks

and

Revenge of the Donut Boys

). Now, he takes his finely honed observations of societal craziness and applies them to a suspenseful noir tale.