The Dearly Departed

By Elinor Lipman (Vintage, $13)

A satirical, Wodehouse-style tale set in rural New Hampshire about a secretly engaged couple (who have been occasional lovers for years) who perish in a freak accident. The resultant buzz increases when the couple's grown children, having come to sort out family business, look strikingly alike. (F)

Highwire Moon

By Susan Straight (Anchor, $14)

Serafina is a young Mexican Indian who survives the arduous trip north to find work, falls in with a white truck driver with whom she has a daughter, and then is tragically arrested and forcibly deported, leaving her infant daughter, Elvia, behind. At age 15, Elvia (street-wise and pregnant) decides to track down her mother in Mexico at the very same time that Serafina begins her own quest in search of her daughter. (F)

The Secret Service

By Philip H. Melanson with Peter F. Stevens

(Carroll & Graf, $26)

Billed as the first definitive history of the vaunted agency, the book traces the origin of the service as an offshoot of the Treasury Dept. in 1865 right up through the political maneuverings that had agents testifying during the Clinton impeachment. The authors level some criticism as well, most tellingly in the chapter on the Kennedy assassination, in which they explore the lack of intelligence sharing between the Secret Service and the FBI that played a tragic role on that autumn day. (NF)

The bestseller lists this week are culled from information submitted by Borders and Olsson's based on sales from 10/14-10/20. The "Washington Is Also Reading" list is based on reports from Chapters, Reprint and Vertigo Books. The Book World bestsellers hotline is 202-334-9000, category code 4175. (11/03/02)