*--* SO. CAL. RATING Fiction LAST WEEK WEEKS ON LIST 1 The Messenger by Daniel -- 1 Silva (Putnam: $25.95) Israeli art restorer and spymaster Gabriel Allon tries to avert an assassination plot against the pope by Islamic militants.

2 Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle 8 4 (Viking: $25.95) A deaf woman is accused of numerous felonies; her boyfriend tries to find the real criminal, who has stolen her identity.

3 The Ruins by Scott Smith 1 2 (Knopf: $24.95) Four American friends in Cancun who agree to help a German tourist find his missing brother end up in a Mexican jungle a la TV’s “Lost.”

4 Pegasus Descending by 4 2 James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster: $26) Sober and newly married, Det. Dave Robicheaux tries to solve the 25-year-old armored-car heist that caused his partner’s death.


5 Suite Francaise by Irene 3 15 Nemirovsky (Knopf: $25) Two novellas from a writer killed at Auschwitz on the exodus from Paris ahead of the Germans’ arrival and on life in a farming village under occupation.

6 Literacy and Longing in 2 10 L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack (Delacorte: $22) A book-obsessed divorcee stalks her movie-mogul ex-husband until she meets a literature major.

7 Never Fear by Scott Frost -- 1 (Putnam: $24.95) When a Pasadena homicide detective tries to find her half-brother’s killer, suspicion falls on her missing father, a character actor.

8 Phantom by Terry Goodkind 6 2 (Tor Books: $29.95) In the 10th book in the “Sword of Truth” series, Kahlan Amnell seeks her true identity in a war-torn world she has the power to destroy.


9 Water for Elephants by -- 7 Sara Gruen (Algonquin: $23.95) A nursing-home patient recalls his life and loves as a penniless college student who dropped out to join the circus in the 1930s.

10 Digging to America by Anne -- 8 Tyler (Knopf: $24.95) A friendship between two couples adopting Korean girls becomes an exploration of culture and family.

11 Wicked Break by Jeff -- 1 Shelby (Dutton: $24.95) Surfer and private eye Noah Braddock investigates the disappearance of a college student whose apartment is stashed full of guns.

12 Angels Fall by Nora 7 3 Roberts (Putnam: $25.95) A woman who has moved to a small town in Wyoming after surviving a brutal crime becomes the sole witness to a murder.


13 Can’t Wait to Get to 10 4 Heaven by Fannie Flagg (Random House: $25.95) When adversity hits Elmwood Springs, Mo., townsfolk discover happiness and renewed faith in helping each other.

14 The Devil and Miss Prym by 5 4 Paulo Coelho (HarperCollins: $24.95) A former arms dealer comes to a village with a proposal: wealth for all if one of its residents is murdered within the week.

15 Dead Wrong by J.A. Jance -- 1 (William Morrow: $25.95) A very pregnant Sheriff Joanna Brady tries to find out who beat an animal control officer and murdered an ex-con in her Arizona county.



*--* SO. CAL. RATING Nonfiction LAST WEEK WEEKS ON LIST 1 Fiasco: The American -- 1 Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin: $27.95) The Washington Post reporter details the administration’s “reckless” war in Iraq.

2 Marley & Me by John Grogan 1 37 (William Morrow: $21.95) A columnist recalls how Marley, an incorrigible Labrador retriever, flunked obedience school, terrorized a pet sitter and won over his family.

3 Conservatives Without 2 3 Conscience by John W. Dean (Viking: $25.95) The former Watergate figure argues that the conservative movement has become riddled with authoritarianism.

4 The World Is Flat by 5 67 Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: $30) How technology and globalization are changing the world and the training that is needed to compete.


5 Cesar’s Way by Cesar 7 17 Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier (Harmony: $24.95) The “Dog Whisperer” of TV gives tips on understanding and correcting common canine behavior problems.

6 The One Percent Doctrine 4 6 by Ron Suskind (Simon & Schuster: $27) How the analyses of U.S. counter-terrorism experts were exaggerated or dismissed to justify going to war with Iraq.

7 Freakonomics by Steven D. 11 58 Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow: $25.95) An economist deconstructs statistics and uses numbers to help explain human behavior.

8 The Long Tail by Chris 12 3 Anderson (Hyperion: 24.95) How technological advances have shattered the old paradigms on marketing and opened up new opportunities for niche selling.


9 Eat, Pray, Love by -- 14 Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking: $24.95) After deciding that marriage and motherhood aren’t for her, the author embarks on a journey of self-discovery in Italy, India and Indonesia.

10 Laurel Canyon by Michael 6 10 Walker (Faber & Faber: $25) A look at the ‘60s rock bands and artists whose creativity flowered in Laurel Canyon, then a sylvan enclave above Sunset Boulevard.

11 Heat by Bill Buford 3 9 (Knopf: $25.95) The journalist chronicles his time as a “kitchen slave” to TV chef Mario Batali and reveals the secrets of a three-star restaurant and Italian cooking.

12 The Man Who Heard Voices 9 2 by Michael Bamberger (Gotham: $27.50) How filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan rejected critics and gambled on his vision to make his new movie, “Lady in the Water.”


13 The House That Trane Built -- 1 by Ashley Kahn (Norton: $29.95) A history of Impulse Records, the jazz recording label that dominated the genre with John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Gil Evans.

14 I Feel Bad About My Neck: -- 1 And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (Knopf: $19.95) The screenwriter and essayist considers the effects of gravity and aging.

15 Hotel California by Barney -- 5 Hoskins (Wiley: $25.95) How music in the early ‘70s came to be dominated by mellow rock, drug use and hyper-managers eager to find the next big act.