The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton

Description: Nick Mason is out of prison. After five years inside, he has just been given the one thing a man facing 25-to-life never gets, a second chance. But it comes at a terrible price.
Nick Mason is out of prison, but he’s not free. Whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, he must answer it and follow whatever order he is given. It’s the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal kingpin serving a double-life term who still runs an empire from his prison cell.
Forced to commit increasingly more dangerous crimes, hunted by the relentless detective who put him behind bars, and desperate to go straight and rebuild his life with his daughter and ex-wife, Nick will ultimately have to risk everything–his family, his sanity, and even his life–to finally break free.

Steve Hamilton has had already had an acclaimed and lengthy career with his successful Alex McKnight series. When I heard he was starting a new series and moving to a new publisher, I knew he believed he had something special on his hands. After reading The Second Life of Nick Mason, I know he was right. This is a great new series with a gritty main character that will live on in your imagination long after you turn the last page in the book.

Nick Mason is not your typical hero. He starts the book five years into a twenty-five year prison sentence. He gets offered a get out of jail card, but it’s not free. He’ll be at the beck and call of Darius Cole, a crime boss running his criminal enterprise from inside prison. Nick doesn’t know what he has to do, only that he has to do it without question. If not for a daughter and an ex-wife he is desperate to connect with, he wouldn’t take the deal.

Nick lived his criminal life with a set of rules he never violated. When a friend begs him to join him for one last score he bends those rules and ends up with a dead friend and a lengthy prison sentence. Now back on the outside, he finds himself in debt to a man who expects him to do things and cross lines he’d never cross on his own.

Nick is not superman but he’s extremely competent and very clever. In debt to a criminal kingpin and pursued by the cop who put him away and won’t accept that he is back out on the streets, Nick walks an increasingly dangerous tightrope. He may have to break all of his rules if he wants to find a way out of the situation he finds himself in.

Steve Hamilton is a tremendously talented writer. His depictions of the midwest and Chicago in particular carry an authenticity to them that brings the locale to life. He skillfully breathes life and depth into his characters, exploring their backstory while always moving the plot relentlessly forward. It’s impossible not to root for Nick Mason especially when the prospects for him escaping the noose tightening around his neck look increasingly grim.

The Second Life of Nick Mason flies by with great pacing and outstanding action scenes. Hamilton made a bold choice to start a new series with a new character, and it has definitely paid off. Treat yourself to this one. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.


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