Life in Prison, by Stanley "Tookie" Williams; Morrow, 80 pages, $15 -- Williams, a co-founder at age 17 of the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles and a Death Row inmate at San Quentin since 1981, may have purchased himself redemption in this slim volume intended to warn kids about what it's really like to be in prison. The 10 simply written chapters lay out in dramatic detail just exactly what it's like to be stuck in a small cell, what a day in prison is like, a strip-search, how some inmates go berserk in captivity, how bad the food is, how bad the health care is, violence in prison (a scary chapter which does not get into the prison rape issue) and the final one, "homesickness," just how homesick you get when you know you're never going home. Williams dictated the book, a chapter at a time, over the phone to Barbara Cottman Becnel, who met him while she was researching a book about gangs. It's a haunting book, the more so when Williams explains that as a kid, he thought everybody went to prison and it would be cool to go there. His royalties will go to a non-profit organization, the Institute for the Prevention of Youth Violence. -- Jean Westmoore
Detective, by Arthur Hailey; Berkley, $7.99 -- Searing novel about justice in warmer down-south climes. With blockbuster books like "Airport," "Wheels" and "Hotel" to his credit, author Hailey -- who lives in the Bahamas -- now brings his gritty realism to a tough, gripping police thriller.
-- Ed Kelly