Immigrants’ stories have built-in drama. The circumstances differ, but the end goals are the same—build new lives while contending with unfamiliar ways. In these recommended works of fiction with immigrant leads, a Japanese private investigator works his cases in post–WWII California; an Irishman navigates a corrupt New York City; and a Russian engineer leaves a life of persecution only to find more violence in Boston.

In Peter Kageyama’s mystery, Hunters Point, set in 1950s San Francisco, Katsuhiro “Kats” Takemoto, a Hitchcock fan and PI, attempts to thwart a corrupt developer from driving immigrants from their homes. Kageyama’s novel is “fun and captivating,” says our reviewer. “Kats is still dealing with the fallout of World War II, during which his family surrendered much of its property.…The story, which blends historical fiction and noir, is well researched, with a lot of intriguing period details about San Francisco.”

Andrew Flower’s Fire Marker Man chronicles the life of Irish farmer Robert Gillian, who flees the potato famine with his family and lands in NYC. “Gillian gets wrapped up in the complexities of arson, firefighting, the Civil War, and individual quests for revenge,” writes our reviewer. “A powerful family narrative of tragedy and hope emerges in Flower’s novel along with the age-old American question: How can the exploited pull themselves up from their bootstraps without exploiting others?”

Russian expats consider life’s meaning, supernatural experiences, and hidden treasure in Mark Budman’s starred short story collection, The Most Excellent Immigrant. Says our reviewer,“Budman crafts a story collection that reads more like a novella, exploring coherent, resonant themes, such as the exhilaration that immigrants feel regarding America’s opportunities and their bafflement at its alienating culture.” The result is “a set of captivating tales of strangers in a very strange land.”

Karen Schechner is the president of Kirkus Indie.