The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead (Anchor, $15). Alternate realities, conspiracies and cover-ups, and elevator repair: What more could you want from a novel? Whitehead's debut is the fantastic (and fantastical) story of Lila Mae Watson, a young black elevator repairwoman whose quest to unravel a mysterious crash doubles as a soaring allegory about race.

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson (Picador, $14). A crackling caper from an author better known for the seminal short story collection Jesus' Son and the National Book Award winner Tree of Smoke. Nobody Move is loaded with familiar noir figures, each given a delirious twist. A gambling barbershop-quartet member, a dangerous debt-collector, a booze-brined bombshell — all are loosed in a lyric poem of sour despair that's also laugh-out-loud funny.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage, $15). McCarthy's bleak, calamitous story about an ill-gotten bag of cash and the trouble it brings doubles as a rueful treatise on fate.

Dare Me by Megan Abbott (Reagan Arthur, $15). Abbott transplants the treachery of classic noir to a high school cheerleading squad. Equal parts shadowy malevolence and raging teenage hormones, Dare Me plays out like Spring Breakers meets Carrie meets All About Eve.

Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (Back Bay, $14). Woodrell is building a solid case for himself as the Faulkner of the Ozarks and started that work with this wounded tale of a tenacious young girl struggling to find her missing father. The movie made Jennifer Lawrence famous, and Woodrell more than deserves the same fate.

The Zero by Jess Walter (Harper Perennial, $15). In a slightly different version of New York City than the one in Shovel Ready, a slightly different terrorist tragedy: "the Zero," a 9/11-style attack. One survivor is our protagonist: a hero-cop with a self-inflicted head wound who's constantly waking up in the middle of situations with no idea how he got there. The Zero is Catch-22 crossed with Memento, and the anti-investigation novel for our time.

In his novel, Shovel Ready,The New York Times Magazine's culture editor Adam Sternbergh unfurls a hollowed-out Manhattan in which a garbage collector turns hit man just to survive.