Murder Ballads, By Santi Elijah Holley, 138 pgs.

The 151st installment of Bloomsbury’s 331/3 series is a banger. Santi Elijah Holley does a song-by-song close reading of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads. Each tune is grounded in a folk or blues song about a killing. Holley discusses each of the songs on the record in the context of Cave’s career and in the larger historical sense—both the murders themselves and in the traditions from which the songs came. I’m not a huge Nick Cave fan, but still found this one compelling and engrossing throughout because of quality and care of Holley’s writing. –Michael T. Fournier (Bloomsbury)