Washington gets knocked for lots of things: The soulless lobbyists of K Street; the feckless windbags of Capitol Hill; the wildly offensive name of its football team. But one thing the city has perhaps always gotten right is museums.
Early in the movie “The Blues Brothers,” Elwood tries to sell Jake on the duo’s new Bluesmobile, a used police car he picked up at auction to replace their old Cadillac. “It’s got a cop motor,” he explains. “Cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks.” This isn’t a bad way to describe what makes Richard Price’s new novel so extraordinary, either. “The Whites,” written under the pen name Harry Brandt, delivers a riveting crime tale thoroughly steeped in gritty cop irony, cop slang, cop attitudes and cop justice.
Whether you get a kick out of Michel Faber’s deeply earnest and spiritual new novel, “The Book of Strange New Things,” might wholly depend on which side you’d come down in a bookish version of those pop-Christian bumper stickers: Know Jesus, know this novel/No Jesus, no this novel.
A lot of spy novels would have you believe that espionage involves elite globe-trotting adventures laced with good booze and cool toys, and certainly there are elements of all those things in Ben Macintyre’s vivid and fascinating new “A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.” But this nonfiction book’s most intense scene is prosaic — two old friends, middle-aged English gentlemen who came up as spies through British intelligence, share a cup of tea while “lying courteously to each other” in a Beirut apartment in 1963.
The first sentence of Terry Hayes’ exhilarating debut thriller, “I Am Pilgrim,” travels from Red Square to the “wrong side” of Detroit’s Eight Mile Road, and somehow you know immediately — buckle up. This complex, globalized tear through our complex, globalized world shoots from New York to the Black Hills of South Dakota, touches down in London and Geneva, and lands on tiny Santorini, “the most beautiful of all the Greek islands,” for a gripping assassination at a world-class restaurant and bar. And that’s just the first 50 pages.