“The Second Time Around” is a Hidden Gem

The Second Time Around by Mary Higgins Clark Book Talk

Title: The Second Time Around

Author: Mary Higgins Clark

Published: April 1, 2003 by Simon & Schuster

Page Count: 302

Official Summary: 

( In a novel that reaffirms her reputation as “America’s Queen of Suspense,” Mary Higgins Clark delivers a gripping tale of deception and tantalizing suspense.

Nicholas Spencer, charismatic head of the medical research company Gen-stone, involved in the development of an anticancer vaccine, suddenly disappears. His private plane crashes en route to Puerto Rico, but his body is not found.

Early results of the vaccine seemed highly promising. Yet, coinciding with Nicholas Spencer’s disappearance comes news that the FDA is denying approval. Then follows the shocking revelation that Spencer had looted Gen-stone of huge sums of money — including the lifetime savings of people who had risked every penny they had.

Marcia “Carley” DeCarlo, the thirty-two-year-old columnist for the Wall Street Weekly, is assigned to cover the story. Carley is the stepsister of Spencer’s wife, Lynn, an aggressive PR woman and socialite, whom she dislikes and distrusts.

The day after news of her husband’s disappearance rocks the financial and medical world, Lynn attends a meeting of the stockholders of Gen-stone, flaunting expensive clothing and jewelry. Accused of having participated in the scam, she appears indifferent to the anger and despair of the people attending, among them a man whose child has cancer and who is now about to lose his home. That night, she narrowly escapes death when her mansion in Bedford, New York, is set on fire. She turns to Carley, begging her to use her investigative skills to prove that she was not her husband’s accomplice.

As Carley proceeds with her investigation, she is confronted by seemingly impenetrable questions: Is Nicholas Spencer dead or in hiding? Was he guilty or set up? Why the sudden reversal in medical opinion of the vaccine from recognition to condemnation? And as the facts begin to unfold, she becomes the target of a dangerous group involved in a sinister and fraudulent scheme.

The Second Time Around is Mary Higgins Clark at her best, telling a story that intertwines fiction with the stuff of real-life headlines in a novel of breathtaking suspense and surprises.  )

My Thoughts:

I came across this book by complete accident and I am incredibly grateful for it. Earlier this year I read The Last Juror by John Grisham and absolutely loved the journalistic storyline. The Second Time Around has everything I loved about Grisham’s book and builds on it. There is a sweet slow-burn romance for the main character that beautifully lightens and otherwise dark themed book. When I first sat down to read this book, I did not know that it would be split between two character’s point of view. The shift from only hearing Carly’s thoughts to also hearing from the character of Ned was gradual and felt organic in the story. 

There is plenty of room for the reader to speculate what will happen next, filling in the blanks of the story through Carly’s investigation. The summary on the inside cover of the book refers to the author as “America’s Queen of Suspense.” After reading the book, struggling to put it down as I read through the twists and turns, I agree. Mary Higgins Clark has written an extraordinary story that feels both fantastical and realistic. 

Have you read The Second Time Around? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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