By John Grisham (Doubleday)

Grisham’s latest novel opens with the kind of life-altering scene we have come to expect from him, wherein a world of privilege — in this case that of a young Wall Street lawyer — takes a sudden turn for the worse. Grisham’s tale evolves into something serious and powerful: muckraking of the highest order. His protagonist, sent to work on cases in Appalachia after being laid off from her high-powered job, provides a window to the plight of miners. The result is a novel that offers both superior entertainment and a powerful case against Big Coal. — Patrick Anderson


By Daniel Levine (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

This spellbinding first novel is an ingenious revision of a classic Gothic tale, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Here, Hyde remains Jekyll’s creation, but he is less a devil than a confused, increasingly angry agent of the doctor’s secret desires. Narrated by Hyde, the book deliversa new look at this enigmatic character and intriguing possible explanations for Jekyll’s behavior. “Hyde” is a sometimes demanding novel, as we move between one man’s warring minds, but it offers many surprises and rich, often intoxicating prose. — P.A.


By Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Retired from his longtime job as chief inspector of the Sûreté du Quebec, Penny’s beloved character Armand Gamache is enjoying life with his wife in a quiet village outside Montreal when a neighbor’s husband, a painter, goes missing. Alas, Gamache is pulled back into solving another crime. But Penny’s novel — her 10th — is not just a missing person’s case; its larger subject is how artists can pursue greatness or, alternatively, lose their souls. — P.A.


By Tana French (Viking)

French’s fifth Dublin Murder Squad novel centers on a year-old case of a boy found murdered on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school. As the detectives search for answers, French lures readers into the toxic stew of hormones and homicidal rivalries roiling within the hermetically sealed world of teenagers at the school. French, who won an Edgar Award for “In the Woods” (2007), is a poet of mood and a master builder of plots. Here she provides an exquisitely sensitive look at the mean-girl world: the mocking stares, the whisper campaigns, the machinations of cliques. By story’s end, she simultaneously makes you wistful for the galloping intensity of lost adolescence and grateful to have left it with mind and body intact. — Maureen Corrigan


By Jean Hanff Korelitz (Grand Central Publishing)

There’s a whole subgenre of novels that leaves a good wife abandoned and deceived on Page 1. In her smart new mystery, Korelitz has taken this plot one step further. The good wife in this case is a successful New York couples therapist and author of “You Should Have Known,” a book that castigates women for not paying attention to the possibility of male deceit. It seems its author should have paid more attention to her own title. There are even more surprises for our heroine — a murder, grand larceny and an appalling media circus — in this culturally astute tale in which nothing is exactly as it seems. — Carolyn See


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The top 50 fiction books for 2014

50 notable works of nonfiction

The top 10 graphic novels of 2014

The five best romance novels of 2014

The five best science fiction/fantasy books of 2014

The five best audiobooks of 2014

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