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The Second Life of Nick Mason


The Second Life of Nick Mason

Steve Hamilton is arguably the most reliable author working in what fellow writer Marcus Wynne refers to as the “grammar mine” these days. Being reliable is an important trait, the most important in my mind. Hamilton shows up, brings his considerable talents with him, and solidly delivers time after time after time. As readers, we should expect nothing less, given that when we purchase a book, we are making an investment in time and money, and hoping for the best. With Hamilton, one gets it, whether in his fine, long-running Alex McKnight series or his occasional stand-alone works such as THE LOCK ARTIST and NIGHT WORK.

All of that said and done, Hamilton has now blown out the doors and windows of the expectations he has built, nurtured and surpassed throughout the years with a newly published and much anticipated novel, THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON, which commands your attention from the first page going forward.

"Hamilton has now blown out the doors and windows of the expectations he has built, nurtured and surpassed throughout the years with a newly published and much anticipated novel...which commands your attention from the first page going forward."

Nick Mason is as compelling a new character as you are likely to encounter this year. We meet him as he is walking out of a frying pan called prison and into a fire of his own making. Having served only five years of a hard-time sentence for murder, Nick suddenly finds himself free, having made a deal with a particularly powerful devil named Darius Cole. The charming but dangerous Cole is a criminal kingpin who is also incarcerated but runs his powerful empire from his relatively luxurious prison cell, and needs an instrument to keep things running as he wants them. Having decided that Nick possesses certain unique qualities --- reliability among them --- Cole recruits him with a seemingly simple agreement: Cole will see that Nick is released almost immediately, and Nick will live in a place of Cole’s choosing, doing his bidding when summoned by a telephone call. Nick discovers that Cole is a man of his word: He is out of prison and living in Cole’s penthouse in less time than it takes to tell about it.

Hamilton demonstrates dramatically throughout the first half of the book how jolted Nick is by the transition from his small cell to a penthouse residence, from confinement to the freedom to walk where he pleases and do what he wants, from barely edible food to gourmet meals. Such freedom, however, comes at a severe price. Nick finds that his world --- a world that included his now ex-wife and daughter --- has moved ahead, but there are those who want nothing more than to see him back in prison. Furthermore, Nick’s duties for Cole include actions he has never done before, ones that go against his moral code. But he knows that if he doesn’t toe the line with Cole --- immediately and without question --- he will be back in prison, or worse. Freedom, Nick quickly learns, isn’t entirely free...and under the terms he has set with Cole, it can be lethal --- not only for him, but also for those he loves.

THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON is, in title and substance, an ironic metaphor, one that has as much to do with the publication of the book itself as it does with the story within. Hamilton has several more Nick Mason novels planned, as well as an eventual meeting between his newly minted character and the weathered mainstay McKnight. I would tell you that it doesn’t get any better than this, but I am almost certain that Hamilton’s next book will prove me wrong on that account.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 27, 2016

The Second Life of Nick Mason
by Steve Hamilton

  • Publication Date: April 18, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0399574344
  • ISBN-13: 9780399574344