In formulating his conceit for the novel Drain, Davis Schneiderman takes a page from forbears such as Kurt Vonnegut, whose agents of apocalypse are treated as perfectly ordinary matters of fact.

Drowned Boy

Jerry Gabriel’s characters seem to spring from the cracks in the sidewalks, allowing the town’s young boys to break forth into manhood by way of their upsets on the baseball fields, basketball courts, and the unforgiving Midwestern lakes.

Prayers for Sale

Eighty-six-year-old Hennie Comfort has lived in the rugged mining town of Middle Swan since before President Grant declared Colorado the Union’s thirty-eighth state. Hennie’s daughter, Mae, wants her mother to bid farewell to the unforgiving winters of the Colorado mountains and join her and her husband in their Iowa home along the banks of the Mississippi River.

The Last Dickens

Matthew Pearl’s first novel, The Dante Club (2003), surprised critics with its erudite blending of history and mystery in a tale of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and post-Civil War Boston. In his second novel, The Poe Shadow (2006), Pearl re-created Edgar Allan Poe and life in mid-nineteenth-century Baltimore in a second critic-wowing and New York Times best-selling historical thriller.