Daryl Gregory’s second book is every bit as intense, well-written and thought-provoking as his first, which means we must all wait patiently for more. It’s a rare thing to run across a writer of what Margaret Atwood calls “speculative fiction” who combines this level of intelligence with a matching dose of empathy. The Devil’s Alphabet involves a small Appalachian town that was visited with a strange plague. It altered the genetic makeup of most of its residents—but not in all the same ways. In fact, argos, betas and charlies are as different from each other as they are from unchanged humans. And now it’s happening again, in a country half a world away. We see the story unfold through the eyes of Pax Martin, who remained unchanged (physically, at least) by the disease. But he’s got another mystery to solve: Who killed his first love, a beta woman? This novel is worth staying up late to finish.