David's Reviews > No Second Chance

No Second Chance by Harlan Coben
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's review
Nov 22, 2010

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Read in November, 2010

In much the same way Alfred Hitchcock was a master at building up tension in his movies, Coben succeeds at creating an air of tension and desperation. At the same time, Coben manages to drop a number of "lines in the water" meaning that there are always multiple questions hanging in the reader (and hero's) minds. He carefully resolves each one slowly and surely, and he does it like a master fisherman, because he knows how to "set the hook" in his reader's minds and keep them wondering.

In "No Second Chance" Coben's hero is a father who awakens in the hospital with little memory of how he got there-- only to discover that he has been shot, his wife murdered and his infant daughter kidnapped. Sadly, he is considered both suspect and victim by law enforcement. From there-- he eventually is contacted to pay a ransom and the plot thickens into a bowl of delightfully thick oatmeal from there. He makes contact with former lover, Rachel, an ex-FBI agent who seems to be under a shadow of her own- her reasons for leaving the FBI are not exactly pleasant and Coben dangles that minor mystery for quite some time, shaking it at the reader at just the right time.

Coben sticks one twist after another as his hero regains partial memory of the day of the shooting... He is told at one point "You KNOW who shot you," but he refuses to believe that he may be suppressing some type of memory.

Coben also throws up a reasonable number of red herrings or false leads, but never lets them draw the reader too far off the correct path. In the end, I was shocked to discover the identity of the shooter, but had to admit, the clues were there, though they were very, very subtle.

Once again, a fine novelist churns out a quality thriller. This isn't his best work, but it is still pretty good reading and I reccommend this author to thriller lovers.
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