No Second Chance

Joseph sparks

Composition I


No Second Chance

"If you contact the authorities, we disappear. You will never know what happened to her. We will be watching. We want two million dollars. Get the money ready. Go home and wait, there will be No Second Chance." With this quotation, a extraction from a ransom letter, Harlen Coben can draw a persons attention. Needing no further details of the book, readers dive into a book full of murder, intrigue, mystery, and a bombshell every chapter. This novel is great work of literary art, but what sets this book apart from any other book?

An interesting plot is a necessity to all written works. No one can have a book and just ramble on with no point, because no one would want to read it. A dabble of love, a lot of conspiracy, a couple murders, and a kidnapping can lead to a best selling plot that sweeps the nation like a plague, no one left untouched.

A marriage on the verge of collapse, Mark and Monica Seidman had bought a house four months ago, delighted because of the birth of their baby, Tara Seidman. Mark, a plastic surgeon for a organization called One World, he was constantly traveling, leaving his six month old daughter and wife to fend for themselves. One morning, as Mark was eating a granola bar over the sink (raspberry, not blueberry) and was shot. When he came to in the St. Elizabeth Hospital, he found out the deadening truth. Monica was dead. Tara was missing. Mark had been shot twice, one bullet nicking his scalp as another entering his chest, scratching the pericardial sac. Unconscious for twelve days, all hope seemed lost. As the evidence piled up and the death-toll was on the rise, four million in ransom was given, a CD containing incriminating photos from a private investigator was found, and an old-lover entered the story, bearing a seemingly sinister past of her own. Two years pass before closure was obtained, as the evidence and truth seem to open doors better left closed, locked, and forgotten.

The setting is a powerful part of the book. Harlen Coben did an excellent job of familiarizing himself with the area which he that set the novel, as he used streets and suburbs from New York, including hospitals, malls, highways, and he also set the novel in a town in New Jersey called Huntersville. He made sure he knew a town or city before he used it, living in New Jersey, he is a hop, skip, and a jump from New York, as he used his location to get the job done with marvelous results.

All characters play an important role in a book; every single one represents some attribute in the novel that couldn't be left out. Mark and Monica Seidman represent a problem, a crumbling marriage that lead to a disastrous demise. Lenny and Cheryl (no last name was mentioned, which seems odd), along with their four kids; Marianne, Conner, Kevin, and Justin represent the support for the Seidmans before and after Monica's death and Tara's disappearance. The detectives (Bob Regan and Tickner) at first think Mark killed his wife and hid his daughter. Lydia and Hershy, the real bad guys are hired mercenaries that will do anything if the dollars are big enough. And lastly, there is Rachel Mills; an ex-FBI agent with a shattered reputation helps to solve the atrocious crime. All of these characters play an important role in the book, every single one tied into the fate of the Seidmans.

A good book follows one rule, always start out with a bang and end with a bombshell. "When the first bullet hit my chest, I thought of my daughter." This beginning of chapter one submerses the reader into the depth of a family bond, something Harlen Coben writes about often. The narrator continues to say that his six-month-old daughter Tara, was lying in the crib, and as he was shot, he hoped the gunfire didn't frighten her. He wondered if he heard her, but he has no memory of it. Stating that fatherhood was confusing, Harlen finishes off this part of chapter one with this paragraph:

"So I like to think that as the two bullets pierced my body, as I collapsed onto the linoleum of my kitchen floor with a half-eaten granola clutched in my hand, as I lay immobile in a spreading puddle of my own blood, and yes, even as my heart stopped beating, that I still tried to do something to protect my daughter."

A Master of the words, he ends with great effect, though perhaps a little bit too theatrical with words.

This book seems to connect the best of all types: murder, mystery, detective "who did it," a little romance, and a lot of twists and turns. A bookshelf would be blessed to be adorned with this Picasso of literally work, No Second Chance is a true Harlen Coben treasure.