Also of interest ...

in time-traveling through fiction

The Learners

by Chip Kidd (Scribner, $26)

A struggling 1960s New Haven ad firm becomes “a banter-filled workplace worthy of Howard Hawks” in Chip Kidd’s “snappy” new novel, said Sean Howe in Entertainment Weekly. Kidd, a renowned book-jacket designer, steers his ad-man protagonist into close encounters with some famously disturbing psych experiments at nearby Yale. That gambit adds intellectual intrigue to Kidd’s period social comedy.

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Vienna Blood

by Frank Tallis (Random House, $15)

This 485-page paperback original is “one of the finest literary thrillers I’ve ever read,” said Patrick Anderson in The Washington Post. Set in 1902 Vienna, it follows Holmes-and-Watson–like friends as they investigate a series of brutal murders, and it “remains fast-paced and often fun” despite its thematic ambition. Frank Tallis’ “exceptional descriptive powers” never fail him. He’s as sharp with duels and Austrian pastry as he is with the rise of a twisted new form of German nationalism.

The Somnambulist

by Jonathan Barnes (Morrow, $24)

Though set in 1901 London, Jonathan Barnes’ debut novel is “not your great-grandfather’s mystery yarn,” said Doug Childers in the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch. Its amateur sleuth is a fading magician, his sidekick is an 8-foot giant, and its murders are being committed either by a circus freak or a cult inspired by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The book “would have profited from some trimming,” but its “surface pleasures” are plentiful.

My Revolutions

by Hari Kunzru (Dutton, $26)

Hari Kunzru’s latest joins a recent wave of novels devoted to re-examining 1960s-era radicalism, said David L. Ulin in the Los Angeles Times. Kunzru’s is “more inward-looking” than most, thoughtfully exploring how we all “get caught in our belief systems.” As the assumed identity of a former radical collapses, My Revolutions shows how “the pure white heat of extremism” can lead not to liberation but to a kind of servitude.

All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well

by Tod Wodicka (Pantheon, $22)

This “showily titled” debut could have been merely “an extended cheap shot” aimed at the 63-year-old medieval re-enactor who serves as its antihero, said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. But Tod Wodicka succeeds in keeping the story “bittersweet and unpredictable,” even as widower Burt Hecker takes a break from a German mead fest to attempt a reconciliation with his estranged son.

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