The Oath

By John Lescroart (Signet, $7.99)

The soaring cost of health insurance is at the crux of this new thriller. Dismas Hardy is a savvy San Francisco attorney, hired by a doctor accused of killing the CEO of the fiscally ailing Parnassus Medical Group. Hardy soon discovers that the HMO has a history of its patients dying in unusual circumstances. Is this a coincidence, or are they casualties of aggressive cost cutting? (F)

Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea

By Nikki Giovanni (Morrow, $16.95)

A new collection of 50 poems by Giovanni, the popular poet and activist who has penned more than 16 books. Many of the poems here reflect the civil rights era -- be they meditations on humanity or emotional, politically charged riffs on social issues of the day. Rounding out the mix are poems tinged with personal revelations and family lore. (F)

Samurai William

By Giles Milton (FSG, $24)

Milton's new work of history should be familiar to fans of James Clavell's novel "Shogun." It is the story of William Adams, an English mariner who landed in Japan in 1600 and secured the shogun's confidence. Adams eventually became the shogun's samurai and played an important role as adviser, interpreter and shipbuilder. (NF)

The bestseller lists this week are culled from information submitted by Barnes & Noble, Borders and Olsson's based in sales from 01/06-01/12. The "Washington Is Also Reading" list is based on reports from Chapters, Reprint Book Shop and Vertigo. The Book World bestsellers hotline is 202-334-9000, category code 4175. (01/26/03)