By Richard North Patterson; Knopf, $26.95

In a novel that may presage real-life political events, a newly elected president has an opportunity to nominate a chief justice for the Supreme Court. As a judge’s secret past becomes fair game, the Senate majority leader exploits what he can to ruin her prospects during a struggle marked by scabrous emotion and bureaucratic process.

By Bill Robinson and Ceridwen Morris; Fireside, $12

Although this book is subtitled “Everything the Hollywood Assistant Needs to Know About Breaking Into and Moving Up in the Movie Business,” the authors not only teach people how to break in, but could also convince them to stay out. Full of practical advice for would-be assistants, the book is funny reading even for those not willing to wash a poodle, memorize a boss’ allergies, or plunge a toilet for a promotion.

By Stephen J. Cannell; St. Martin’s Press, $24.95

L.A. cop Shane Scully — whose moniker screams “recurring character” — has killed his partner and is being investigated by Internal Affairs in this suspense novel from the Emmy-award-winning creator of The Rockford Files, The A-Team, and The Commish. Conveniently transferred to Internal Affairs during the investigation, Scully manages to do a little digging of his own.

By Alexandra Johnson; Little, Brown and Company, $24.95

Johnson addresses the problem of jotty journal-keeping in this book about recording one’s life. For the beginner, she shows how to simply stick with journaling and suggests subject matter to include. For the seasoned diarist, she offers creative brainstorming exercises and advice on how to shape a journal into a memoir.