NEVER GO BACK
By Lee Child. (Delacorte, 400 pages, $28.)
Fans of Lee Child's quick-thinking (and quicker punching) anti-hero Jack Reacher will welcome the latest in the series of bestselling tales of suspense. "Never Go Back" returns the former military police investigator to the headquarters of his old unit, for what he thinks is a social visit. It's a move that the rangy, untethered veteran will soon come to regret, when he's confronted with accusations from his past that would push a slightly saner man to flee. Being Reacher, he decides to stay and fight, a choice that eventually forces him to confront the Army, the Washington, D.C., metro police and a group of thugs who come to regret underestimating the aging veteran. "Never Go Back" gets off to a slower start than some of the best titles in the series, but even a less than perfect Jack Reacher novel is very good indeed.
Who Asked You?
By Terry McMillan. (Viking, 400 pages, $27.95.)
Terry McMillan's newest novel exposes the raw, gritty and heart-wrenching side of parenting. It centers on three sisters who are often at odds, following their struggles with their personal lives, and delving into the reality of parenting after children are past the cute and cuddly stage. Betty Jean, the matriarch, worked hard to make a better life for her three children, only to have them become, in turn, a drug addict, prison inmate and self-loathing ingrate. The narcissistic sister, Arlene, babies her son to the point that he resents her. Venetia, who's often caught in the middle of Betty Jean and Arlene's quarrels, struggles to maintain her own identity away from her children and philandering husband. Unnecessarily told from the perspective of 15 — yes, 15 — characters, the story challenges the reader to keep up. Still, many will identify with McMillan's story and empathize with the characters, relishing how they come out on the other side of their journey.