Photograph: Custom House

We all know about “beach reads,” but local author Emily Gray Tedrowe’s The Talented Miss Farwell (out September 29) might be the first “foliage read,” a deceptively pulpy yarn with distinctly autumnal tones (warm and folksy). Tedrowe's charming and wry third novel was inspired by one of the biggest municipal frauds in U.S. history. Its protagonist, a teenage girl with a preternatural talent for crunching numbers, quickly becomes the treasurer of her tiny central Illinois town. The only problem is, she’s developed an expensive habit: collecting fine art. Tedrowe has a talent for incrementally (and believably) stacking a house of cards and keeping readers wondering just how crazy things will get. The answer: way crazier than you’d expect for a small-town art lover.