The Barnes & Noble Review
Harlan Coben returns to the arena of obsession, conspiracy, and violence that make his novels (Tell No One, Gone for Good) such edge-of-your-seat thrillers. Once again, his plot begins with an explosive scene of suburban outrage that leads a sympathetic, everyman hero into ever deeper trials and terrors: Marc Seidman's life becomes a nightmare when he's shot in the chest in the kitchen of his own home. Awakening from a coma almost two weeks later, he discovers that his wife has been murdered and his infant daughter is missing. It takes so long for a ransom note -- which warns that there will be "no second chance" -- to arrive, Marc and the police are uncertain about the kidnappers true intentions. Those intentions do not become clear to anyone -- including the reader -- until the very last pages of the book, after a constantly surprising series of plot twists carries the narrative through another year and a half in Marc's desperate quest to find his daughter. Coben hasn't only given us a masterwork of suspense, he's also written one of the most complex and elaborate novels of his career -- a book so compelling, ingenious, and disturbing you'll want to finish it in one sitting. Tom Piccirilli
True, that proclivity for self-analysis promises a story paced like downhill molasses. But this time Mr. Coben's plotting skills are in vigorous form, and he has devised a cleverly intricate scheme surrounding Tara's disappearance. Though he specializes in missing persons and mixed-up identities, to the point where his previous two thrillers (Tell No One and Gone for Good) had some overlap, the nimble and ingenious No Second Chance has a life of its own. — Janet Maslin
Supercharged by a father's fierce drive to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Coben's third stand-alone thriller proves far more gripping than his second, Tell No One. Marc Seidman, a plastic surgeon near New York City, wakes up in a hospital to learn that he has been gravely wounded, his wife shot dead and his infant daughter, Tara, snatched. The ensuing narrative, which shuttles between third person and Marc's first person, covers more than a year in Marc's hunt for Tara and climaxes twice with his fumbling of payments in response to ransom demands, plunging him into despair. A smartly drawn supporting cast supports Marc in his quest, including an old girlfriend-an ex-FBI agent-who reappears in his life; Marc's lawyer, who's also his best friend; a cop/FBI duo who for a while suspect Marc of engineering the snatch and ransom demands; and a working-class hero who joins forces with Marc near the end of his hunt and steals every scene he's in. On the villain's side lurk several shady folk, including a psychopathic former child star and her hulking boyfriend. The plot is overly complicated, and there's a revelation at book's end that veteran thriller readers will have sussed out long before. Those flaws matter little, though, in the face of the emotional onslaught of Marc's gut-wrenching, self-questioning, relentless narration, which will carry readers like a tidal wave through the novel's twists and turns. What Coben's thriller lacks in originality, it makes up for in sheer vigor; few browsers or dippers will put this down. (Apr. 28) Forecast: Dutton is seriously behind this book, and Coben may get an extra push with Tell No One in pre-production at Columbia Pictures, with Michael Apted scheduled to direct. Look for this to be Coben's bestselling novel yet, with a real shot at making premier national lists in hardcover. Simultaneous Penguin Audio Book; BOMC, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild Main Selection; featured alternate of the Literary Guild. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This crackling spellbinder will not only keep you mesmerized from beginning--"When the first bullet hit my chest, I thought of my daughter. At least, that is what I want to believe."--to head-spinning, unexpected end, but will also ameliorate a lot of your personal relationship challenges. Talkative mother-in-law? Give her this, and you'll have a few blessed hours of peace. Adolescents complaining of boredom? No Second Chance will pump their adrenaline more than any computer game or forbidden substance ever could. Even your tired, cranky spouse will look at you with grateful new eyes after reading this Hitchcockesque, high-velocity tale that you so thoughtfully gave. (7 Jul 2003)
A surgeon finds himself in intensive care after a brutal assault, with his wife dead and his baby daughter gone. Then the ransom note arrives.
Once again, Coben (Gone for Good, 2002, etc.) expertly tugs at a suburban citizen’s most ordinary fears until he finds a mind-boggling criminal conspiracy at the other end of the line. Pediatric reconstructive surgeon Marc Seidman’s family life ends with two shots into his body and another into his wife Monica’s, leaving her as dead as Marc was supposed to be. When he awakens 12 days later, he learns that his baby girl Tara has disappeared from his home as well. There’s a ransom demand, and Monica’s wealthy, remote father is happy to pay the freight, but Marc ignores Edgar Portman’s wishes, tips off the police and the FBI, and loses the money, any hope of recovering Tara, and his crackhead sister Stacy, who dies of an overdose soon after the cops tie her to the abduction. Eighteen months later, though, the kidnappers give Marc the second chance they swore they wouldn’t: For another $2 million, they’ll return Tara, whose hair samples they’ve already sent to her grandfather. And now Marc has a new ally, his college girlfriend Rachel Mills, a former FBI agent who just happens to have turned up again. If you think Marc and Rachel will outfox the kidnappers this time around, you don’t know Coben, who’s looking way past the second abortive ransom drop to a racket that entangles a washed-up child TV star, the protector she met in the loony bin, an improbably successful adoption lawyer, and assorted Serbian extras. And just in case these malefactors aren’t enough, he casts suspicion on Dina Levinsky, the abused girl who used to live in Marc’s house; on Rachel (how did her husband get shot to death?); and even on Marc himself (why were he and Monica shot with two different weapons?). Irresistiblyoverstuffed. Coben has blossomed into the male Mary Higgins Clark. Mystery Guild/Book-of-the-Month Club/Doubleday Book Club main selection; Literary Guild alternate selection. Agents: Lisa Erbach Vance, Aaron Priest/Aaron Priest Agency
Praise for No Second Chance
“Nimble and ingenious.”—The New York Times
“The author doesn’t build suspense. He opens fire.”—New York Daily News
“At times the suspense in No Second Chance is almost painful.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“A wild ride made even more wrenching because the terrain is home, family, love, and loss.”—Houston Chronicle
“This crackling spellbinder will...keep you mesmerized from beginning...to head-spinning, unexpected end.”—Forbes
“Coben again keeps the reader off-balance with innovative story lines and diabolical bad guys.”—People
“Thrillers as satisfying as No Second Chance clearly have the Coben stamp.”—Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“The emotional onslaught of Marc's gut-wrenching, self-questioning, relentless narration...will carry readers like a tidal wave through the novel's twists and turns.”—Publishers Weekly