A blend of true-crime procedural and social critique, Jill Leovy’s Ghettoside (Spiegel & Grau, $28) is gripping and essential. Leovy, who is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, convincingly argues that the state—through laxity and investigative misapplication—has allowed homicide rates among young black men to assume epidemic proportions. She focalizes her narrative around the murder of 18-year-old Bryant Tennelle, and a veteran detective’s tireless investigation into his son’s killing. Leovy is a skilled storyteller, and while her prose is occasionally stock, she manages to marshal the events and the data into a satisfying package. With America’s criminal justice system undergoing new surges of scrutiny, Ghettoside arrives at the perfect moment and introduces new wrinkles into the dialogue.
Recommended by Drew Cohen, buyer for The Writer’s Block bookstore, 1020 Fremont St., 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon-Sat, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.