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Don’t tell, but I often choose books based on their jackets’ comments. So if the author responsible for penning a thriller wackily titled Alligators May Be Present heaps praise upon Steve Alten’s latest novel, hell, I’ll give it a read. Well, that recommendation, plus, dude, it’s about the Loch Ness Monster! Alten’s new pseudohistorical thriller, The Loch, traces the fictional adventures of marine biologist Zachary Wallace while embedding in the tale “new evidence that leads to real answers about the monster’s identity.” If countless sensational TV specials narrated by folks with exaggerated Scottish accents have so far failed to sway your conviction that ol’ Nessie lurks below the foggy lake, perhaps this work of fiction might convince you. Come for the reading; stay for the 7-foot-high simulated monster skull that will accompany Alten when he reads from and signs copies of the book at 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 555 12th St. NW. Free. (202) 347-0176. (Kara McPhillips)