cover image NO SECOND CHANCE


Harlan Coben, . . Dutton, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-525-94729-5

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. (Apr. 28)

Forecast:Dutton is seriously behind this book, and Coben may get an extra push with Tell No One in pre-production at Columbia Pictures, with Michael Apted scheduled to direct. Look for this to be Coben's bestselling novel yet, with a real shot at making premier national lists in hardcover. Simultaneous Penguin Audio Book; BOMC, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild Main Selection; featured alternate of the Literary Guild.