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No Second Chance - Harlan Coben

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Author: Harlan Coben / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    9 Reviews
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      26.05.2012 14:56
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      A must read

      ~~No second chance~~

      Firstly, I came across this book by accident a friend has given me loads of books to see me through my pregnancy as I have turned into some sort of crazy book worm and I now either have Dooyoo or a book in front of me. This is not the type of book I would normally read as I am generally a true stories sort of person. However, I can now say I have well and truly been converted into a crime/thriller lover. I genuinely look forward to adding to my collection with some more books from Harlan Coben (North York Times bestselling author) an author I hadn't previously heard of until reading this book. From beginning to end this book had me in a trance I couldn't put the book down! With its clever twists and gritty details the book will truly draw you in.

      The story is based in America and see's Dr Marc Seidman's terrifying ordeal unravel as he wakes from a coma to find that not only has he died and been revived, but also that his wife has been murdered and his baby daughter Tara is nowhere to be found. Was it a burglary gone wrong, kidnapping or a hitman's doing? Then out of the blue comes the ransom note, a lead to where his daughter may be, a sample of hair, is Tara going to be found alive or dead? As the minutes, days, weeks and years pass by what does Dr Seidman discover? The ransom note says not to contact the authorities but with the FBI looming over him because of the shootings and his best friend being a lawyer; will all go to plan and the swap take place, he was warned there will be no second chance. A former high school lover who happens to be an ex FBI detective returns on the scene which leads to the FBI turning their sights onto Dr Seidman himself surely he couldn't have killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter, could he? The story shows the poignancy of true friendship while taking the reader on a white knuckle ride of adventure, mystery and terror.

      This book is a must reader for all adults even if you do not normally like thriller books then I would say to try this book and you might surprise yourself I'm looking forward to read more books by this fantastic author in the near future!

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        16.07.2010 14:20
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        Briliiant, read it.

        After recently reading Play Dead by Harlan Coben, which was written over 20 years ago, and being unimpressed I decided I needed a more recent offering to get me back on track with the usually brilliant Harlan Coben, so when I saw No Second Chance in Morrisons for a mere £1.99 I immediately bought it. No Second Chance was first published in 2003 so it isn't brand new but it is more recent than Play Dead.

        Dr Marc Seidman wakes up in intensive care after having been shot to find his wife was also shot and didn't make it and his baby daughter Tara is missing. After a while a note arrives asking for a ransom for the return of Tara which gives Marc hope that she is still alive but he is warned they are watching him and if he contacts the police he will never get Tara back and there will be no second chance.

        It sounds like a straightforward kidnapping, especially as his dead wife Monica's father is very rich but as the story unfolds we realise it's far from simple and straightforward and complications and lies start to fall out of the woodwork at every turn.

        This book is classic Harlan Coben I'm pleased to say and had me totally hooked all the way through. The plot is suitably complex with twists and turns that you just don't see coming at all and can't possibly work out which is what I associate with this particular author. He manages to inject some humour right from the start and a few places had me chuckling out loud even though the main plot is clearly a serious one.

        All the characters in the book play their part of the plot perfectly and you get to really care about Marc and what's going on in his life. All the way through the book you can feel his desperation to find his daughter and there are some really gripping chapters that you simply cannot stop reading partway through.

        The best part though is I had no idea how it all pieced together until the point where Harlan Coben explained it all to me, I get tired of thrillers where I know who did what really early on and no matter how hard the author tries to lead me away from that discovery and hide it in twists and turns it remains obvious. Not a problem with this book because I can honestly say I didn't have a clue who had done what and how all the people fit into the puzzle. The revelation when it comes also turned out to be a complete surprise too because it wasn't anything like I thought it would be. As an avid thriller reader I must applaud Harlan Coben for the complexity of the plot in this book and I doubt many people will be able to guess the solution. He also doesn't need to use contrived methods of revealing bits of information along the way and everything we learn is found out in a natural way and is believable so none of the plot seems forced.

        This is a really exciting book with plenty to think about along the way and no clues as to what actually happened or where Tara is. There are some very funny moments too though and it doesn't get bogged down in despair and some great characters, especially later on. No Second Chance has everything you expect from Harlan Coben with plenty of action, some very funny one liners and a plot way to complicated for even experienced thriller readers to work out. It really is excellent and I can highly recommend any Coben fans read this one and any thriller fans give this a go too.

        A full 5 stars from me and I feel like I'm back on track with Harlan Coben's work now.

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          07.06.2010 15:09

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          Super book

          The book opens with an attention grabbing account by the protagonist, Dr Marc Seidman, describing his reaction to being almost fatally shot. From here we are soon thrust into emotional turmoil as Marc finds out that his wife is dead and 6 month old daughter is missing. With this set-up its all systems go for a fast paced thriller to unfold.
          When the ransom note is received from the kidnappers, he is warned not to notify the authorities and that he would be given "no second chance" if he didn't comply. Adding pressure to Marc is the realisation that the police may actually consider him a suspect in his wife's murder and daughter's abduction.

          I think the supporting characters are a strong point of the book, too. The introduction of former FBI agent / former girlfriend Rachel Mills injects real confusion into the story as she brings along a secret past and raises all sorts of suspicions. Then there are the kidnappers, an odd couple of the truly unhinged variety that make you wonder how they've stayed free for so long. But the most memorable of the supporting characters is Verne, the scene stealing, gun loving redneck, who is quite willing to tell it like it is and blow the consequences.

          Harlan Coben has once again stepped up and delivered an excellent thriller filled with an array of twists, poignant moments and cold, calculating killers. Although I'm desperately hanging out for another Myron Bolitar book, I'll still be satisfied to read more books like this.

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          17.03.2009 22:34
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          Harlan Coben at his best

          My favourite author right now is Harlan Coben, and I am working my way through every book he has written at the moment. He knows how to write a fast-paced thriller full of twists and turns that hold you right till the end, and 'No Second Chance' , another of Coben's stand-alone thrillers does exactly that!

          The story begins with renowned plastic surgeon Dr Marc Seidman waking up to find himself in the intensive care unit, having been in a coma for over a week. He learns that both he and his wife were shot in their own home by an unseen assailant. Marc was left wounded, his wife murdered, and his baby daughter, Tara, is missing.
          The FBI and police are investigating but have come up with nothing, and no ransom note has been delivered. It's not long before Marc realises that he himself could be a suspect!

          On the day he leaves the hospital, his affluent father-in-law asks to see him. When Marc arrives, his father-in-law shows him a ransom note which reads -
          'We are watching. If you contact the authorities, you will never see your daughter again. There will be no second chance'.
          The ransom money is given to Marc by his father-in-law, but Marc is unsuccessful in his efforts to get his daughter back, failing on two occasions.

          In time, Marc becomes suspected of engineering the snatch of his daughter and the ransom notes, as a ploy to extract money from his father-in-law, and begins to despair of ever seeing his daughter again.

          What follows is a tale with so many twists, turns and revelations that I could not foresee at any point whilst reading the book.

          There are some good supporting characters in this book, and Marc receives help from an unlikely source, an amusing and heroic character, ( who could feature in a novel on his own!) Marc's best friend who is also a lawyer, and an old girlfriend, Rachel, who is an ex- FBI agent, and this was the only part of the book where I thought I could see the ending - Marc and Rachel back together, and with baby Tara all living happily ever after! However, I can be wrong sometimes too - even if it did seem obvious!

          Detail is also given to the kidnappers, who are quite a psychotic duo ( a former child star and her boyfriend, who seems to know little more than how to crush someone with his bare hands! ) and their relationship, as the book switches between chapters devoted to Marc, which is told in the first person narrative, and then to the kidnappers, as the tension builds and builds. Just as I thought I had a slight notion as to how the novel would end, off it went again to prove me wrong, and I could not put this book down until I reached the end!

          I don't want to spoil the story for anyone here , so will just say that together Marc and Rachel eventually uncover a conspiracy greater than they ever could have imagined, as this roller-coaster of a story weaves its intricate plot.

          Ive heard Harlan Coben's work described as 'pleasantly painful' to read and that sums up this book exactly, as finding yourself drawn in from the very start,and needing to know how it all ends, will guarantee you will want to read this book in one sitting!

          I'm off to read another one now!

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            13.10.2008 18:25
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            Excellent book from a great author

            I am a big fan of the crime thriller genre, and one of my favourite authors is Harlan Coben. Like many authors, he has written a number of books based round a central character, but also a good selection of stand alone thrillers that have no bearing on other books. One of his stand alone books is this one, No Second Chance, a panicky thriller involving a murder and a kidnapping. Coben has the ability to twistg and turn the novel in your head, constantly keeping you guessing until the end before giving you a brilliant plot filler.

            No Second Chance sees Dr Marc Seidman waking up in hospital, having vague memory lapses, following the murder of his wife and the abduction of their baby daughter. He receives a ransom note for the baby, stating that if he involves the police, etc, that will be it. There will be no second chance. Thus ensues a frantic tale of just how far one man will go to save his child and avenge his wife.

            Coben gripped me from the start with this one. A lot of authors, while excellent in their own right, take a while to get going in their novels, setting the scene and dithering about with characterisation that will become important later on. Coben does away with floating around and launches straight into the story, pausing briefly every now and then to provide some details essential to the plot, and then grabbing us once more by the scruff of the neck and throwing us back onto his rollercoaster novel for another ride.

            The plot is a rather twisted and complex one, and there is no real point in examining too much who dunnit or where it's taking you. There are elements which are predictable, but be warned: these are there to throw you off the scent. You see, Coben is an author who seems to put himself in the mind of the reader and think about what they would expect as the plot winds its way to a conclusion. The combination of this as well as the speed with which he gives us chapter after chapter makes me enjoy his work more than than the majority of other authors, and makes him stand out a bit from the crowd.

            There are some similarities to other authors in terms of style in the book. Remnants of a James Patterson fan and the familiar crime thriller circles of Michael Connelly and Lee Child spring around from time to time, but I think this is more to with a number of authors spotting a winning formula as opposed to laziness or going with the flow. No Second Chance is a very good novel that had me as a reader not knowing which way to turn, and I was very impressed. The way Coben arrived at the conclusion was a little far fetched in my view, but it wasn't an impossible one that had no logical defence, such as you may find with other authors, and that's what made it so enjoyable.

            No Second Chance retails for £6.99, although hunt around the charity shops and online for a cheaper deal.

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              30.04.2008 23:50
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              Good well written thriller.

              This is a gripping book from a very talented writer whose work I have often enjoyed. Harben writes excellent thrillers and this book is no exception.

              The main character is Dr Marc Seidman who wakes up in hospital after being shot in his own home, he has little memory of the events that night and he also discovers that his wife is dead and his baby daughter is missing from the house. Shortly after leaving hospital a ransom note is received for his daughter.

              As with all ransom notes he is told not to contact the police however he decides to involve the authorities and when the whole exchange is botched he fear that he will never see his daughter again however fate means that he may actually get a second chance however it will also mean that he becomes a suspect in his wife murder.

              I must say I really enjoyed this book, it really does draw you in and Harben is skilled at building the suspense. In Seidman you have a character that you can sympathise with and the story does a great job of depicting his desperation to be reunited with his daughter.

              I would definately recommend this as a great story which has a strong plot and plenty of twists and turns along the way.

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              25.03.2005 09:41
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              The question is just how far would you go to protect your family? Anyone who has been a parent would probably at some time or other have said that they would kill someone to protect their children. When you hear in the news about a paedophile or the abduction of a child the emotion is often one of wanting revenge and to inflict pain on the guilty but if the occasion actually arose could you actually do it? Pull the trigger? Stick the knife in? Beat someone to death? Look into someone eyes as you choke the life out of them?

              These are the questions that face Dr Marc Seidman a man who has dedicated his life to correcting facial deformities of children all over the world. Seidman remembers being shot one morning in his own house, his last thoughts being about his six-month-old daughter Tara and his beautiful wife Monica. Twelve days later he wakes up in a hospital bed to learn that he is lucky to be alive, his wife not so lucky and no trace of his daughter. The day he leaves hospital a ransom note arrives at the home of his rich father in law. The message is clear deliver the ransom, do not contact the police and you get your daughter back, fail and there is no second chance.

              The first dilemma is whether to involve the FBI and police, deciding to trust them, eventually Seidman proceeds with the FBI help. Without wanting to spoil the plot the ransom drop goes wrong and Seidman loses his daughter again and his life lapses into a spiral of despair and with no progress on the shooting Seidman becomes the suspect, and then two years later another ransom note arrives and Seidman is plunged into having to make one of the biggest decisions of his life. He has his second chance.

              What follows is a roller coaster of emotions and white-knuckle action as Seidman joins up with his first love, and former FBI agent Rachel Mills in a desperate search for his daughter. How far will Seidman go this time and whom will he ever trust again? Pursued by the FBI and those who do not want him to find the truth he is forced to question his own morals and those of the people closest to him.

              Harlan Corben has produced an excellent thriller with a number of twists and turns which keep the reader on the edge of their seat. This is the first book that I have read by this author and certainly it will not be the last. Many times while reading this I felt that I could predict the outcome and final twist however this time I was only partially correct and right to the end Seidman is faced with life effecting decision and moral judgements.

              In Seidman you have a main character that is clearly out of his depth battling with his emotions and driven by the need to see his daughter again, he is also wracked with guilt over the state of his marriage and his feelings for Mills, which were a permanent feature throughout his marriage. As a parent you immediately identify with Seidman emotions and continually ask the question of how you would react in a similar situation. There is a strong supporting cast of characters who are well developed throughout the book and you are kept guessing right up to the end.

              I would certainly recommend this if you enjoy thrillers and I will definitely be reading more of Corben work. Published by Orion the rrp is £6.99, £5.59 on Amazon however it is a lot cheaper in the used section.

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                05.01.2005 20:13
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                Dr Marc Seidman wakes up in the hospital to find his wife has been murdered and his baby daughter, Tara, has vanished from their home. He has been shot and cannot remember events leading up to the awful events of that day. He spends weeks lying in bed, himself the subject of the murder investigation as the only witness, powerless to go out and find his daughter. Weeks later a letter arrives – a ransom note – warning him that if he contacts the police he will never see his daughter again. There will be ‘no second chance’.

                Marc’s wife has a rich father, Edgar – therefore he stumps up the cool 2 million bucks that is demanded. However, Marc, torn between wanting to take the kidnappers on alone and seeking help, reluctantly involves the authorities. The ransom money is taken to a secluded area and collected – but the kidnappers don’t keep to their side of the bargain. Tara is not returned.

                18 months later there is still no sign of her. But Marc hasn’t given up hope. And then another note arrives – WANT ONE LAST CHANCE?

                If you think that’s given away alot of the plot, that’s just the first hundred odd pages. The rest of the book is a rollercoaster ride through Marc’s desperate attempts to get his daughter back and bring his wife's killers to justice. But is Tara still alive after all this time?

                * What I thought *

                This story gripped me right from the start. Clues are given to the reader but nothing so concrete that we are any the wiser as to who has taken the baby or why. The fact that Monica, Marc’s wife, is found unclothed at the murder scene convinces Marc something’s not right. The last thing he remembers is her pulling on her jeans after her shower. So who broke in and shot him and his wife and snatched the baby?

                Hmm well obviously I'm not going to tell you!

                Marc’s vulnerability is put to the test after coming to terms with his wife’s death when he sees an old flame, Rachel, in the supermarket. The 'one that got away' returning to his hometown rakes up old memories. Handily(!), she’s an ex FBI agent, and is soon on the case as his pardner, trying to uncover the mystery of the missing baby.

                * Characters *

                Rachel, Marc’s ex girlfriend was ‘the love of his life’ and the fact that her husband, also an FBI agent, was shot dead at point blank range, adds to the mystery of the surprisingly secretive Rachel. Marc hasn’t seen her in close to 15 years but photographic evidence shows that she’s been hanging around the hospital where he works – but why? Is she stalking him? Is she somehow involved in all of this?

                Lenny - Marc’s best friend since childhood and (also) handily a top notch lawyer. Husband, father and most importantly always there for his pal, he’s already got his own theories as to who’s behind the abduction.

                Marc himself is a likeable character and the reader senses his frustration and desperation when trying to find his daughter. He’s a bit of an all action hero. Leaping onto moving cars just after you've got out of hospital wouldn't be top of everyone's activities - of course he's badly injured (again) when the car throws him. He tends to go in all guns blazing rather than thinking things through, and seems to end up getting hurt more than necessary!

                There are many others that come and go in the book but hold out to the end when Verne Dayton is introduced when Rachel and Marc stumble upon his house in the woods. He’s stuck in an 80s time warp and sports a mullet hairstyle, a ‘cheesy blond moustache’ and an interesting line in t-shirts.

                * Other info *

                ISBN 0-75284-280-3
                RRP £6.99
                (£5.49 on play.com or as part of a 3 for £15 deal)
                391 pages, paperback.

                * About the Author *

                Harlan Coben lives with his wife and four children in New Jersey. ‘No Second Chance’ was a bestseller in Orion hardback.

                Other books by Coben:

                Deal Breaker
                Drop Shot
                Fade Away
                Back Spin
                One False Move
                The Final Detail
                Darkest Fear
                Tell No One
                Gone For Good

                www.harlancoben.com

                * Overall *

                I think when one reads this type of book, there’s always a theory the reader adopts as to whodunnit. In Coben’s books there are always a number of possibilities and clues point cleverly to a number of suspects throughout the book. Nearing close to the end you are still none the wiser – neither are the cops that are investigating the case, although they seem to be barking up the wrong tree right from the start and they tend to be two steps behind the main characters anyway! To the reader this is kind of frustrating, but it makes it all the more exciting as you’re led up different pathways only to meet a dead end!

                Ten pages til the end, I thought it was all wrapped up. But in true Coben style, there’s one last punch he wants to throw, and it’s a goodie!

                I think a real plus in his books (this only being the second I’ve read) is the loyalty and friendship between the two lead men. Lenny the lawyer comes into play once Marc’s life is turned upside down and Lenny the friend is always there to lend an ear.

                This is clever stuff. If you haven’t read a Coben book, make it this one.

                Five stars – Mack read this one in a matter of days, so desperate was she to find out the identity of the killer! Highly recommended.

                Thanks for reading.

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                  27.12.2003 06:14
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                  I read Tell No One by Harlan Coben several months ago and remembered liking his writing style when I saw No Second Chance on the library shelves. Harlan is a very good writer who knows how to draw you in and keep you interested with twists and turns in the plot, but the ending of Tell No One lacked the punch that I expected and hoped for as I approached the final chapters. As I began reading No Second Chance I felt a strong sense of familiarity and wondered if indeed it had been this novel that I'd read earlier. It wasn't but in both stories the hero is not long married and their wives are murdered in mysterious circumstances. I couldn't help thinking that Harlan maybe hates women or wives enough to make them victims but I pushed that thought from my mind as I read on. Dr Marc Seidman is a plastic surgeon, one of the good guys who treats the needy and travels to the third world or war torn countries. His wife Monica is the daughter of a rich man. One morning Marc and Monica are shot in their home and only Marc is left alive, but is severely injured and initially expected to die. Twelve days later Marc wakes up in hospital with no memory of what has happened and finds that their 6 month old baby daughter Tara has been missing since that morning. There are no clues at the crime scene and no apparent reason for the crime. Kidnapping Tara for ransom is the only logical explanation but no demands are made until the day Marc leaves hospital and is taken to visit his father in law. There he finds that a box with a clipping of Tara's hair and a demand for $2,000,000 has been delivered. The hair has been DNA tested and found to be Tara's and Marc is ordered to deliver the ransom by himself and without informing the police. Marc takes the money given by his father in law and waits at his own home until the kidnappers call with a meeting point. Unfortunately the police learn about the demand and get in on the act. The mon
                  ey is taken but Tara isn’t returned to Marc, all he gets is a message telling him ‘no second chance’. Desperately disappointed, Marc gradually returns as much as possible to a normal life but doesn’t give up hope that his daughter is alive and well. 18 months later his father in law receives another ransom demand for $2,000,000 along with another lock of hair and a message asking if he wants a second chance. After DNA testing it’s found that the hair is from a 2 year old child and a match of Tara’s. At least Marc knows that is daughter is still alive but can he swap a further $2,000,000 for his daughter without the police and FBI finding out and messing things up again? At this point the pace of the novel became strong. Marc enlists the help of an ex girlfriend Rachael who just happens to be ex FBI. The question is can he trust her? She retired under dubious circumstances and Marc discovers that she had hung around his practice not long before the death of his wife and kidnapping of his daughter. Could she have had something to do with what has happened to Marc, could it be Marc himself as the police begin to think, or could it be somebody else entirely? With the police closely on his tail, the kidnappers always seem to be one step ahead of Marc as he follows clues in the hunt for his daughter and the killer. He begins to suspect that somebody close to him is leaking information but who can’t he trust? I won’t divulge any more of the storyline, but there are lots of twists and turns to add enough suspense to make me want to keep on reading. Although I guessed whodunit early on, I didn’t guess the reasons behind the crime and it’s aftermath and I changed my mind several times throughout. The lead up to the end was excellent enough to keep me on edge and although the ending was a bit lukewarm it was better than the final chapters of Tell No One. To me No Second Chance was altogethe
                  r a better read than Tell No One and I felt that this award winning author has improved from good to better than good in the 2 years since Tell No One was published and look forward to reading his future work. One teeny disappointment was that I would have liked to see two of the characters enlarged upon a bit more. Lydia and Heshy are a gruesome twosome described well enough to make my skin crawl. The thought of that pair in the background added more suspense to the story, whether they had anything to do with the crime or not! Marc was a likeable and believable character. His grief at the loss of his daughter and wife was portrayed well and made me want to find out if he gets Tara back. He is quite an ordinary guy really, but his search brings out a toughness and tenacity in him that you can only admire. I was interested to read that Harlan Coben doesn’t start with an outline to a novel. He just plans a beginning and an end, with the core happening as he goes along. I suspected that during reading because you get quite far into the book before you see that it is heading in any particular direction. With some writers the result can be messy with too many loose ends, in No Second chance the loose ends are tied up despite there being so many twists. No Second Chance is only available in hardback at the moment but the paperback due to be released on New Years Eve can be pre-ordered on Amazon for £5.59. Highly recommended if you like an intelligent thriller with enough twists to keep you guessing right through the book. ISBN: 0752842803

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