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The Second Time Around


The Second Time Around

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Mary Higgins Clark is known worldwide for her suspenseful thrillers
and she is considered one of the most popular and prolific writers
in the genre. Her latest book, titled THE SECOND TIME AROUND, is a
well-plotted tale about the discovery of a cure for cancer and the
balance between the good and the evil that motivates the players
with a stake in its development.

The novel begins with a stockholder's meeting that takes place
"… two weeks [after] Nicholas Spencer, president and chief
operating officer of Gen-stone had been killed in the crash of his
private plane while flying to San Juan … his company expected
to receive the blessing of the Food and Drug Administration for a
vaccine that would both eliminate the possibility of the growth of
cancer cells and bring to a halt the progression of the disease in
those already afflicted-a preventive and a cure that he … was
responsible for bringing to the world".

Unfortunately, soon after this celebratory event, "the headline
proclaiming Spencer's disappearance was followed … by the
announcement from the chairman of the board of Gen-stone that there
ha[d] been numerous setbacks in the experiments with the vaccine
and that it could not be submitted to the FDA for approval in the
foreseeable future". This chilling news story "further said that
tens of millions of dollars had been looted from the company,
apparently by Nicholas Spencer."

Stockholders, both the rich and the ordinary who had invested their
life savings in Gen-stone, lost everything. And since Spencer's
body was not recovered, many believed he orchestrated his own
"death" and that he was cavorting on a beach in some country with
no extradition laws. Others, who may have believed that he really
was dead, were at a loss to understand how this shining hero turned
out to be a consummate con man and the miracle drug a fraud.

Marcia "Carley" DeCarlo, a financial writer, tells the story in the
first person; later, her voice is joined by that of a madman who
tells his side of the story in the third person. He is a murderer
who seeks to avenge all the wrongs life has imposed upon him,
especially the death of his beloved wife. She died in an accident
while fleeing from their home, after an argument over the money he
lost in Spencer's scheme. In a race to save lives and uncover the
truth, Carley joins a team of writers who are assigned to write
"The Nicholas Spencer Story" in a way no other publication has ever
printed it.

THE SECOND TIME AROUND is chock full of colorful characters from
all walks of life and whose only real connection to each other is
Gen-stone. They are left with the sad bond that marks the wreckage
of their lives in the aftermath of the drug companies' devalued

We meet Spencer's wife, Lynn, a rich, self-absorbed, selfish and
cold woman, who happens to be Carley's stepsister. We are
introduced to Dr. Broderick, who participated in the very early
experiments conducted by Nicholas's father, ones that comprise the
primary work on the new drug. We meet people in the town where
Nicholas Spencer grew up who are shocked by the accusations against
him and outraged by what seems to be his betrayal. We are
introduced to Vivian Powers, Spencer's personal assistant whose
involvement with him exceeds her job description. We meet Marty
Bikorsky, a man broken by his losses who finds himself the main
suspect in a near fatal fire that burned the Spencer mansion to the
ground. The CEO of Gen-stone, Charles Wallingford, and Adrian
Garner, the head of the pharmaceutical firm, ready to market the
cancer cure, hover like dark shadows over the narrative.

Throughout, Carley follows her instincts and uses her common sense
as she put the bits and pieces of the puzzle together. She
carefully investigates Nicholas Spencer's disappearance; who, if
anyone else, could have stolen the money; the probability (or not)
that the drug will really work; who is being framed and whom is
doing the framing. Each step she takes not only brings her another
clue but also puts her in danger. Nevertheless, this determined
writer cum sleuth manages to maintain her integrity and vows she
will explore every twisted path along her journey to discover the
truth of the matter.

THE SECOND TIME AROUND is Mary Higgins Clark's twenty-seventh
novel. Readers will find this book fresh and new whether they are
reading her for the first time or have read all twenty-six others.

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 23, 2011

The Second Time Around
by Mary Higgins Clark

  • Publication Date: April 15, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743206061
  • ISBN-13: 9780743206068