HELL TO PAY George P. Pelecanos (Little, Brown, $24.95) Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys) bought the movie rights to Pelecanos’ series of three books about private dick Derek Strange, a D.C. investigator who battles drug dealers and thugs.

THE OUTFIT: THE ROLE OF CHICAGO’S UNDERWORLD IN THE SHAPING OF MODERN AMERICA Gus Russo (Bloomsbury, $35) Newcomer Shane/Romano Prods. optioned Russo’s history of Chi-town gangster pride.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS H.G. Wells (Bantam Classic, $4.95) Cruise/Wagner Prods. optioned the 1898 tale of alien invasion, with Tom Cruise possibly to star.