Friday, March 03, 2006

Mini Review: “No Second Chance” by Harlan Coben

I don’t quite remember how I became aware of Harlan Coben and his writings. It may have been picking up one of his novels off of the reduced-price shelf at Brentano’s bookstore in Copley Place. As far as I can tell, Coben entertains no pretensions to be a great artiste, but he certainly knows how to weave a compelling and riveting story. He is the first writer to win three major awards for the thriller and crime novel genres – The Edgar, The Shamus and the Anthony awards.

In “No Second Chance,” Coben takes us on a wrenching thrill ride through the vicissitudes of the life of Dr. Marc Seidman, plastic surgeon and humanitarian. As the story opens, Siedman is shot and gravely wounded, his wife is killed, and their six-month old daughter is kidnapped. Seidman emerges as the prime suspect, and his desperate efforts to prove his innocence and recover his missing daughter fill over three hundred pulse-racing pages. Coben populates his fictional world with believable characters – people I feel I came to know well. He even manages to add enough poignant detail to the minor characters that they emerge as three-dimensional – i.e., the redneck NRA member with a heart of gold. He sounds cartoonish, but he is not.

This is a page-turner worth picking up. The plot twists are clever, surprising and memorable.



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