Tuesday, January 26, 2016

No Second Chance, by Harlan Coben

10/100 Yay, double figures at last! Today's author is another American, Harlan Coben. I've read some of his books starring his most famous (I think) character, called Myron Bolitar. Myron, however, doesn't make an appearance today. 
Today's book is "No Second Chance", and believe me when I say that I finished it in a breathless rush - and I only started reading it sometime yesterday morning. It would have taken me much less time to read it had I only had a few uninterrupted hours to devote to it, but work and cooking and things like that got in the way rather. Lunch time at work simply flew by today. I didn't lift up my head even once for the entire hour, partly because I didn't want to catch anyone's eye and be forced to make conversation - but mainly because I just wanted to be left alone to read the book! (Yes, it's my friendly winning ways such as this that have gained me such a wiiiiiiiide circle of friends.)
Let me now come to the book. Dr Marc Seidman comes to in the Intensive Care Unit, having almost died of gunshot wounds, to discover that, in the 12 days that he was unconscious in hospital, his wife Monica had died (also of gunshot wounds) and his 6-month-old baby daughter, Tara, was missing. And nobody has a clue what happened to her, or who shot him and his wife, although the police entertain the theory that his drug addict sister was the culprit. A few days later Dr Seidman gets a ransom note asking him to bring 2 million dollars to a specified place, with the usual warning not to contact the police or he'll never see Tara again. But of course - reluctantly - he does...and inevitably things go wrong, the kidnappers getting away with the money. With no way of contacting them or finding out where Tara is, Dr Seidman is left with no choice but to get on with his life as best he can.
But then, a year and a half later, the kidnappers contact him again, with the same conditions. This time he doesn't tell the police, but his ex-girlfriend, an ex-FBI agent, is there to provide some help. Once again, things go wrong and yet again the kidnappers get away with the money... but this time around Dr Seidman is much more determined to find out the fate of his daughter, hoping against hope that she IS alive, and he's willing, if not actually to break the law, to at least bend it out of shape to get the information he's seeking from the people who are keeping secrets from him. The story has a powerful mix of emotions - love, loyalty, loss, the bonds of friendship and the all-consuming love of a father for his child. It's a really good read, although there is one thing I wasn't happy with - the baddies didn't get as much coming to them as I wanted, so it was not particularly the best sort of ending for me. I like my threads tied up in pretty bows at the end of a novel. Open ended does nothing for me (and this is not an admission of how THIS book ends). 


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