Percival Everett is the author of more than 30 books, including The Trees and Telephone, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The protagonist of his puckish Dr. No: A Novel (Graywolf Press) is a brilliant professor of mathematics who goes by Wala Kitu. Wala, he explains, means “nothing” in Tagalog, as does Kitu, in Swahili – he is an expert on nothing. That is to say, he is an expert, and his area of study is nothing, and he does nothing about it. This makes him the perfect partner for aspiring villain John Sill, whose desire to become a literal Bond villain originated in some real villainy related to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. Sill wants to break into Fort Knox to steal not gold bars, but a shoebox containing nothing. Once he controls nothing he’ll proceed with a dastardly plan to turn a Massachusetts town into nothing. Or so he thinks. Meanwhile, our professor tries to foil the villain while remaining in his employ. Dr. No is a wildly mischievous novel. That it is about nothing isn’t to say that it’s not about anything. In fact, it’s about villains. And that’s not nothing.