By Elena Mauli Shapiro. (Little, Brown and Co. 288 pages, $25.)

Despite its title and titillating packaging, this melancholy novel is not a mystery or thriller, but rather a sophisticated character study. Irina, the Romanian-born adoptive daughter of American parents, finds little in life to move her until she is courted by an older man, a Romanian Gypsy.

Sex and love ensue, but their context becomes increasingly dangerous, and Irina soon finds herself mired in secrecy and menace. Shapiro's deft leaps forward in time and frequent use of eerie Romanian folks tales help make this dark story a multilayered literary treat.


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By Ken Follett. (Dutton, 1,120 pages, $36.)

In a world where "epic" is a much overused term, "Edge of Eternity" is just that — a fascinating, sprawling, epic conclusion to Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. (The two previous books have been No. 1 New York Times bestsellers.)

All three volumes follow the fortunes of five intertwined families — American, German, Russian, English and Welsh — through the events that shape the 20th century. This final book focuses on the tumultuous 1960s, including the Cold War, the fight for civil rights, the Cuban Missile Crisis and more. Different readers will likely favor some story lines over others — for me, the German Rebecca Hoffmann was a favorite — and will have to suspend disbelief a bit when the book's characters end up front and center in every major event of the era.

But Follett is a master storyteller, and "Edge of Eternity" will appeal to many readers, including those who haven't read the previous two books in the series.


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