NEVER GO BACK. By Lee Child. Delacorte Press. 400 pages. $28.

There's really no need to flip a coin in deciding whether to pick up the latest Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child, simply decide whether you want to read a good book. If the answer is yes, get comfortable and start reading.

After traipsing across most of the country because he liked the sound of the new 110th MP Special Unit commander's voice, former Army Maj. Reacher gets recalled to active duty and promptly arrested. Maj. Susan Turner, whose voice drew him back to Washington, D.C., also has been arrested. Reacher is less than sanguine about the validity of all the charges.

When someone tries to scare him into fleeing instead of fighting, Reacher decides he'd better figure out for himself what's going on.

As Reacher and Turner stay one step ahead of the bad guys, except for those times that Reacher lets them get close enough to hit, a very thoughtful, very satisfying mystery unfolds.

"Never Go Back" has action, intrigue, intelligence, attitude and a touch of romance; what's not to like?

Reviewer Carol Edwards, a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.

OLD MARS. Edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozios. 512 pages. Bantam. $28.

In the early 1900s, telescopes were just strong enough to make out a few rough details on the surface of Mars. A scientist by the name of Percival Lowell went so far as to claim he had seen canals.

It followed that if there were canals, then there would have to be intelligent life on the Red Planet. People were soon fascinated by the possibility.

This discovery and others likely helped inspire H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs to published their early sci-fi classics, such as "The War of the Worlds" and "A Princess of Mars."

They imagined Mars as a planet capable not only of supporting life but humanoid societies. In the late 1960s and '70s, NASA's Mariner missions put an end to the discussion proving there was no civilization to be found on our neighboring planet. Few stories have been published about Martians since.

"Old Mars," edited by New York Times best-selling author George R.R. Martin (author of "Game of Thrones"), is a collection of 15 short stories written by modern authors in the vein of the sci-fi classics of the early 20th century.

They imagine discovering a Mars teeming with life, and each author provides an original take on the now-lost fantasies of the Red Planet.

Reviewer Taylor Pratt-Thomas is a writer in Charleston.