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*--* SO. CAL. RATING Fiction LAST WEEK WEEKS ON LIST 1 The Messenger by Daniel 1 2 Silva (Putnam: $25.95) Israeli art restorer and spymaster Gabriel Allon tries to avert an Islamic militants’ assassination plot against the pope.

2 Judge & Jury by James -- 1 Patterson and Andrew Gross (Little, Brown: $27.99) An FBI agent finally gets his man, but a brutal mob boss hires a killer to make sure no conviction comes down.

3 The Ruins by Scott Smith 3 3 (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.”

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4 Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle 2 5 (Viking: $25.95) A deaf woman is accused of numerous felonies; her boyfriend tries to find the real criminal, who has stolen her identity.

5 Suite Francaise by Irene 5 16 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 Phantom by Terry Goodkind 8 3 (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.

7 Water for Elephants by 9 8 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.

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8 The Keep by Jennifer Egan -- 1 (Alfred A. Knopf: $23.95) Two cousins fix up their frayed relationship as they repair an Eastern European castle in the hopes of launching a luxe hotel.

9 The Expected One by -- 1 Kathleen McGowan (Touchstone: $25.95) An American travels to France in search of scrolls on which Mary Magdalene recounts her marriage to Jesus.

10 Pegasus Descending by 4 3 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.

11 The Night Gardener by -- 1 George Pelecanos (Little, Brown: $24.99) The reemergence of a serial killer reunites three men who had worked on the original investigation for the D.C. police department.

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12 The Devil and Miss Prym by 14 5 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.

13 The Glass Books of the -- 1 Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist (Bantam: $26) A broken engagement leads a jilted fiancee into a world of eroticized masquerade balls and skulduggery.

14 Icelander by Dustin Long -- 1 (McSweeney’s: $22) A woman embarks upon a quest to determine who killed her best friend amid linguistic antics and a cavalcade of quirky characters.

15 Angels Fall by Nora 12 4 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.

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*--* SO. CAL. RATING Nonfiction LAST WEEK WEEKS ON LIST 1 I Feel Bad About My Neck: 14 2 And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (Knopf: $19.95) The screenwriter considers the effects of gravity and aging. (Reviewed on p. 3)

2 Fiasco: The American 1 2 Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin: $27.95) The Washington Post reporter details the administration’s “reckless” war in Iraq.

3 Conservatives Without 3 4 Conscience by John W. Dean (Viking: $25.95) The former Watergate figure argues that the conservative movement has become riddled with authoritarianism.

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4 Cesar’s Way by Cesar 5 18 Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier (Harmony: $24.95) The “Dog Whisperer” of TV gives tips on understanding and correcting common canine behavior problems.

5 Marley & Me by John Grogan 2 38 (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.

6 The World Is Flat by 4 68 Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: $30) How technology and globalization are changing the world and the training that is needed to compete.

7 Heat by Bill Buford 11 10 (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.

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8 Laurel Canyon by Michael 10 11 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.

9 Freakonomics by Steven D. 7 59 Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow: $25.95) An economist deconstructs statistics and uses numbers to help explain human behavior.

10 The One Percent Doctrine 6 7 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.

11 Hotel California by Barney 15 6 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.

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12 Eat, Pray, Love by 9 15 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.

13 The Long Tail by Chris 8 4 Anderson (Hyperion: 24.95) How technological advances have shattered the old paradigms on marketing and opened up new opportunities for niche selling.

14 Grayson by Lynne Cox -- 1 (Alfred A. Knopf: $16.95) A long-distance swimmer recalls an incident in which she encountered a baby gray whale when she was a teenager.

15 Myths, Lies, and Downright -- 2 Stupidity by John Stossel (Hyperion: $24.95) The ABC News reporter criticizes government waste and regulatory fiascoes and touts the wisdom of the marketplace.

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Rankings are based on a Times poll of Southland bookstores.


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