No Second Chance
Harlan Coben
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Buy *No Second Chance* by Harlan Coben online

No Second Chance
Harlan Coben
448 pages
April 2004
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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In No Second Chance, Dr. Marc Seidman wakes up in the hospital where he works with almost no recollection of what has happened. He knows that he was shot, and he remembers what his last thought was - his daughter. His first thought is also of his six-month-old daughter, Tara, and how much he loves her. A police detective tells him that she has been kidnapped and his wife is dead. Marc is distraught with grief and in a state of shock, a shock that becomes even greater when he finds out that he has been in the hospital for twelve days.

Twelve days his daughter has been missing. Twelve days his wife, Monica, has been dead and buried. The funeral was small and quiet; her father, Edgar, wanted it that way and could not wait for Marc to be released from the hospital. Her father is a very prominent man with lots of money; however, he was not a very nice man. We find out that he "abused" his daughter. At the end of her life, she was seeing a psychiatrist for emotional problems: she thought that her husband did not love her anymore and might have been having an affair with his college girlfriend, Rachel. She was right about one thing: Marc didn't really love his wife, ever. He married her only because she was pregnant and he was trying to do the right thing. When she had the baby, he almost resented Tara for forcing him to make the sacrifices one must as a parent. He even questioned himself about being a good husband and father. But a baby is a baby, and the more he got to know her and fell into their routine, he came to love his daughter.

Having recovered from his injuries, Marc leaves the hospital and goes to see Edgar. But first, he stops and sees his wife's grave; he makes a promise that he will find Tara. When he finally arrives at the house, Edgar tells him that he has gotten a ransom demand from the kidnappers. No police, a two million dollar payoff, and then he gets his daughter back. Marc informs the police, who incidentally suspect him of being the killer of his wife and the mastermind behind the whole plot. The police go with him, and as a result he gives up the money, and the chance at finding his daughter.

The kidnappers tell him that there is no second chance. But, after eighteen months of wondering and waiting, they get another ransom demand. This time, like the last, the demand comes to Edgar. They give him a hair sample to convince them that the girl is still alive and waiting to come home. The police get involved with investigating him deeper as he finds his old lover, Rachel, at the grocery store. Itís an awkward moment, but he eventually enlists her help in recoveringt his daughter. As the police turn their attention to her, we find out that Rachel Mills is a retired FBI agent and has a mysterious past of her own.

I was truly expecting No Second Chance to be just as satisfying and heart wrenching as his book Tell No One. I really cared about the characters in Tell No One and I wanted everything to turn out well. I still wanted everything to turn out well, but the characters in No Second Chance are just not that interesting, and I really didn't care about them. They feel rushed and could have been given more depth and sincerity. The main character's concern throughout the book over his daughter is not very believable. It seems like Marc is more interested in his ex-girlfriend when he finds her again, then in finding out what happened to his daughter. He and Rachel's relationship almost becomes the main story; finding Tara seems to be pushed into the subplot. He also appears to give up on his daughter too quickly. As he said, "he and Rachel could just drive off in the other direction," essentially leaving his daughter and the trouble that they are in far behind and start a whole new life together. He is not strong enough to be the main character.

The story builds up to a climatic conclusion that will satisfy his readers. The chase scenes and the mystery of who killed his wife, shot him, and took his daughter is entertaining and keeps the reader questioning the character's motives. Also, the confrontations with the police keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Although not his best work, No Second Chance is an entertaining book; fans of Harlan Coben will appreciate this fast-paced mystery.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Doreen Luff, 2008

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