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Latest DVDs, CDs, books: Jan. 3, 2012

A look at some of the DVDs, CDs and books hitting stores this week

DVDS

“Contagion” (PG-13): A lethal airborne disease spreads around the world in days, prompting the medical community to race toward a cure while ordinary people struggle to survive; Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law and Kate Winslet lead director Steven Soderbergh’s all-star cast.

On a lighter note, Sarah Jessica Parker tries another chick-lit heroine on for size in “I Don’t Know How She Does It” (PG-13), playing a finance executive, breadwinner, wife and mother; Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan co-star. Also on the comedic side, a sardonic Irish cop (Brendan Gleeson) and an uptight FBI agent (Don Cheadle) play mismatched cop buddies in the quirky “The Guard” (R). Turning to horror, a 9-year-old girl (Bailee Madison), sent to live in a spooky mansion with her architect father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes), discovers monsters really do exist in “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” (R). And college kids discover it’s “Shark Night” (PG-13) in a Louisiana lake. Rounding out today’s theatrical releases: the National Geographic documentary “The Last Lions” (PG), about Africa’s vanishing lion population; and “I Am” (not rated), in which filmmaker Tom Shadyac (“Bruce Almighty”) embarks on an spiritual odyssey to ask everyone from Desmond Tutu to Noam Chomsky how to improve our lives — and our world.

Topping today’s TV transfers (all unrated): Kate Winslet in director Todd Haynes’ miniseries adaptation of James M. Cain’s “Mildred Pierce,” plus “Justified: The Complete Second Season,” “Royal Pains: Season Three — Vol. One,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Five,” “Man in a Suitcase: Set Two,” “Only When I Laugh: The Complete Series” and “Absolutely Fabulous’ ” Joanna Lumley in the soap opera spoof “Dr. Willoughby.”

CDS

Elvis Presley, “Elvis Country: Legacy Edition”: There’s not a single new album due out this go-round and only one release scheduled period: this two-disc reissue of Presley’s 1971 record, which also comes with a second disc featuring the original “Love Letters from Elvis” sessions with three bonus tracks.

And so for at least one more week, Elvis is king again.

BOOKS

“Private: #1 Suspect” by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro: Jack Morgan, founder of the Private investigation firm, becomes the top suspect in a murder after a former lover is found dead in his bed.

Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly team up for a novel of romantic suspense with “Love in a Nutshell,” in which Kate Appleton agrees to snoop around a brewery in exchange for $20,000 that will help her turn her parents’ summer home into a bed-and-breakfast.

Also hitting shelves this week: “Agent 6” by Tom Rob Smith; “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History” by Chris Kyle; “Breakdown” by Sara Paretsky; “The Confession” by Charles Todd; “A Devil Is Waiting” by Jack Higgins; “Gun Games” by Faye Kellerman; “Hard Knocks” by Howie Carr; “The Hunter” by John Lescroart; “Iron Kissed” by Patricia Briggs; “Pretty Little Secrets” by Sara Shepard; and “Scarecrow Returns” by Matthew Reilly.

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