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No Second Chance [Hardcover]

Harlan Coben
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 29 2003
Bestselling author Harlan Coben returns with an explosive novel about the love of a father, in a story where nothing is what it seems-and where hope and fear collide in the most surprising ways.

When the first bullet hit my chest, I thought of my daughter...

Marc Seidman awakens to find himself in an ICU, hooked up to an IV, his head swathed in bandages. Twelve days earlier, he had an enviable life as a successful surgeon, living in a peaceful suburban neighborhood with his beautiful wife and a baby he adored. Now he lies in a hospital bed, shot by an unseen assailant. His wife has been killed, and his six-month-old daughter, Tara, has vanished. But just when his world seems forever shattered, something arrives to give Marc new hope: a ransom note.

We are watching. If you contact the authorities, you will never see your daughter again. There will be no second chance.

The note is chilling, but Marc sees only one thing-he has the chance to save his daughter. He can't talk to the police or the FBI. He doesn't know whom he can trust. And now the authorities are closing in on a new suspect: Marc himself. Mired in a deepening quicksand of deception and deadly secrets-about his wife, about an old love he's never forgotten, and about his own past-he clings to one, unwavering vow: to bring home Tara, at any cost.

Both a white-knuckle thriller and an emotionally powerful tale about the loyalty of old friends and the bond between parent and child, No Second Chance is another masterpiece.

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From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Very few writers can induce in their readers the kind of trancelike state, punctuated by frequent "wows," that most of us associate with much-loved books from childhood. Coben can. Although he has had a fairly short mystery-writing career (this is his fourth novel), Coben has already won a great deal of acclaim. He is the only writer to have won all three of the genre's most competitive awards: the Edgar, the Anthony, and the Shamus. His current thriller is as pleasantly painful to read as its predecessors. Coben starts with an excruciating premise: What would you do if your infant were kidnapped? His hero, a plastic surgeon specializing in pediatric reconstructions, has no known enemies. But he wakes up 12 days after having been shot in his own home to discover that his wife has died, his six-month-old daughter has been taken, and he himself is a suspect. When the kidnappers make contact, promising that there will be "no second chance" if the cops or feds are brought into the case, Coben's hero is thrown into an agony of hope and indecision. The novel, spanning 18 months and jumping between the father and the kidnappers, sets off depth charges of meets, double-crosses, near-misses, and vengeful acts. Coben holds it together with his hero's determination and smarts. This is the kind of book that will leave readers dazed--but only after they finally look up from the final page. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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When the first bullet hit my chest, I thought of my daughter. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Page Turner-Why Did I wait so long May 3 2003
Format:Hardcover
I had heard alot about Harlan Coben, but No Second Chance was my first read, and now I feel foolish for waiting so long. I wish I could divulge some plot elements, for they are brilliant, but let me say simply that this book has a fantastically constructed serpentine plot. Reminds me of being on Space Mountain, a great roller coaster where you always think you know the next exciting twist and turn, never do, and then wonder of course why didnt I think of that.
Dr. Marc Seidman, Coben's lead character, is a good guy with just enough hint of darkness to make him interesting. And the characters surrounding him all seem to be hiding some deep dark secret, though discerning which do and what they are is part of what makes this novel a great read. And I also like Coben's eye for detail and description-it is at the same time vivid yet well researched and accurate. One can actually painlessly learn something from a Harlan Coben book.
This was the best money Ive spent in a long time, and now Im off to order the rest of Coben's book. Read it, you won't regret it. Yeah Harlan!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining April 12 2004
Format:Hardcover
A very entertaining mystery/novel, where the narrator is shot
in the first sentence of the book, and he thereafter is occupied with only one thought, that of getting back his kidnapped child.
But the incident where he was shot also resulted in the death
of his wife, and the police, lacking other suspects, focuses on
the husband, a successful doctor, and the family and the police
have a difficult time working together to try to recover the
daughter.
Most worrisome is that no ransom demand is made right away, and
the daughter is not found or heard from. So there is considerable anguish and worry. Then when a ransom demand is finally made, it is made to the child's grandfather, and although he has money, he isn't very close to the husband, and
he definitely doesn't trust the police, either local or federal.
Unhappily, after the ransom of $2 million is paid, nothing more
is heard, and the daughter is gone. Time goes by, so it is
generally assumed the little girl has been killed, and life,
somehow, goes on for these people.
Then, after a year-and-a-half, another ransom demand is made,
and this time the father and grandfather are determined to make
sure they find out if the girl is alive, and, if so, to get her
back.
A lot of fascinating detail here, and this is generally a readable book, but there are some flaws in logic that will jar
some readers. There are a handful of places were any genuine
mystery reader will have to pause and ask: "Is that really what
that character would do?" "Would that really be the next step?"
The flaws and jumps in logic are distracting, and they prevent
this from being a "best" book in this category.
But, nonetheless, there is a surprising ending that is well done, and this is a worthwhile read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but nowhere near his best... July 20 2003
Format:Hardcover
Let me start by saying: Harlan Coben is my favorite mystery author. And I read a lot of mysteries, so that's saying a lot. Coben can really twist a plot, and everything he's written has been an absolute page-turner...
Well, at least until now.
"No Second Chance," although not bad, didn't effect me like his others. I put it down a number of times, which was strange. I plowed through all his previous books in a couple of sittings--they never lasted me longer than two days, no matter how hard I fought to slow down and savor them. But that feeling wasn't there this time.
My major gripe with the book was the lack of a strong hook. Again, it's odd saying that considering how brilliant the opening line was, and how every other book Coben's written glued me to page from the get-go. But my interest in "No Second Chance" was minimal until about the second half of the book. That's a long time to wait, especially for him, but I had faith in Coben, so I stuck with it.
Next in line, the pacing wasn't strong here. There were times when the book dragged. Coben--dragged. Those words sound so incompatible that I hate to say them. But there it is.
A major disappointment, too, was that I guessed about 90% of the ending. Coben's finales are usually knock-outs, but this one was a bit predictable. Sure, I didn't get a few of the details right, but I prefer to be thoroughly stumped. I love thinking I know exactly what happened, only to get to the end and realize I had it all wrong. In other words: I love to guess, but if I'm right, it's a little disappointing.
Lastly (and this is a complaint I've had about all his stand-alones), the main character was very forgettable. Nothing about him stood out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
This book-on-tape has a potentially interesting plot, but it is deeply buried beneath two layers of dullness: its lead character and the narrator. The lead character is in the category of teenagers in horror movies, i.e., doing stuff so stupid that you want to yell out to stop them. (E.g., how many times can someone talk to the FBI against their lawyer's clear advice and still be surprised that it doesn't work out? Or is it possible that a young surgeon knows less about DNA than the average TV viewer?) It's so implausible that my disbelief became unsuspended.
Moreover the narrator who recorded it settles into an annoying sing-song that leaves all sentences sounding sort of alike and that has little variation from character to character. It's hard to listen to.
I miss this author's great lead character, Myron Bolitar (who is funny and smart), but I'll settle for a lot less. This is just not anywhere near satisfactory.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars More twists and turns than a snake
This novel will keep you up, dying to find out the ending.
Written mostly from the doctor's perspective, this psychological mystery feeds you bits and pieces of the puzzle. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Alison Shanks
4.0 out of 5 stars more twists than a corkscrew
Dr. Marc Seidman has been shot, his wife murdered and his baby daughter kidnapped. When Marc is finally ready to go home from the hospital his wealthy, priggish father-in-law... Read more
Published on April 1 2012 by AceofHearts
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many layers in this onion destroy its credibility!
Marc Seidman comes to in the hospital to learn that he has recovered from a near fatal gunshot wound. Read more
Published on March 1 2009 by Paul Weiss
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, fast, gripping!
At home. Breakfast time. Another ordinary day. But everything changes in the space of a minute. Plastic surgeon Marc is shot at and is left for dead. Read more
Published on July 30 2008 by I LOVE BOOKS
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting
I simply couldn’t stop reading this book lucky for me the weather was on my side.

This white-knuckle thriller is about loyalty of old friends and the bond between parent... Read more
Published on July 10 2007 by Toni Osborne
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Know Who Your Friends Are.....
This book is a real page turner. Just to wait up from a coma, only to find that you are the prime suspect of the murdered of your wife and possibly of you own child can be... Read more
Published on July 14 2004 by Lorraine Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder & kidnapping whodunit
Plastic surgeon Dr. Marc Seidman awakens in an intensive care unit realizing that he had been shot both in the chest and head in Harlen Coben's "No Second Chance". Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by Cory D. Slipman
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS MAN KNOWS HOW TO KEEP YOU UP ALL NIGHT
I read this book with trepidation. Recently having read my first Harlan Coben book Tell No One and recommending it to everyone, I feared my initial enthusiasm might be in vain. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by lovz2read
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book, I couldn't put it down.
I absolutely loved this book and didn't want it to end. I've also read Just One Look, and also loved it. I'm now a fan of Coben's and plan on reading more of his books. Read more
Published on June 30 2004 by Shelly Bray
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, what family doesn't have its ups and downs?
The lesson here, guys, is destroy all pictures of yourself and old girlfriends.
Dr. Marc Seidman, a plastic surgeon specializing in maxillo-facial reconstruction, wakes up in... Read more
Published on June 30 2004 by Joseph Haschka
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