The Second Life of Nick Mason Nick Mason #1 Steve Hamilton Thriller G.P. Putnam's Sons May 17, 2016 Hardcover 288
Nick Mason has already spent five years inside a maximum security prison when an offer comes that will grant his release twenty years early. He accepts -- but the deal comes with a terrible price.
Now, back on the streets, Nick Mason has a new house, a new car, money to burn, and a beautiful roommate. He’s returned to society, but he's still a prisoner. Whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, Nick must answer it and follow whatever order he is given. It’s the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind serving a double-life term who 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.
The Second Life of Nick Mason came into my possession thanks to a Goodreads giveaway.
Nick Mason is not necessarily someone who you would call a “good guy”. He is by no means a monster, but the life he leads is definitely in the gray area. Due to an easy job that seemed to be a guarantee for a big score going horribly wrong, Mason has spent the last five years in prison as part of a 25-year sentence. Then he meets the boss of the prison. No, not the warden; the real boss. Darius Cole, a man with enough power and influence that he can run his criminal empire even from the inside. Darius takes a liking to Mason and tells him he can get him out of prison. But the catch, because there is always a catch, is that for the remaining 20 years Mason would have served, he works for Darius instead.
Darius makes it very clear from the get-go that Mason is not free. In effect, all he did was trade his rusty iron cage for a gilded one. Nick Mason is something of an anti-hero. As stated before, he is not really a good person. Mason is the guy who does bad things for the right reasons. He committed crimes on the justification that he could use the money to make a better life for his family but, of course, he got caught and everything spiraled out of his control and actually made things worse. At this point, he is trying to play with the bad hand that he has been dealt. And while Mason is a criminal, he does find himself questioning the things Darius expects of him more and more as the story goes on. Mason is intelligent enough to see the big picture behind his actions.
While Mason and Darius made a phenomenal protagonist and antagonist, the rest of the characters are a bit subpar. Most of them are fairly generic. Generic police officer who is after Mason, generic protagonist’s love interest, generic no-morals thugs who work for Darius, etc. and so forth. While the rest of the cast is a bit weaker than the lead roles, The Second Life of Nick Mason is still a very strong first installment to this series. The way the book is written makes it play out almost like a movie. As a thriller novel, it almost has a similar to a Jason Bourne style story. Personally, I read the entire book in one sitting. I did not plan it that way. My Saturday afternoon was to read the first few chapters of this book, but I just could not stop once I started.
While this book is starting a series, it does not end in a cliffhanger (thankfully). However, it does end in a way where readers know there is more to come. Mason’s dealings with Darius have only just started and their story is certain to remain a thriller until their Faustian bargain has concluded one way or another. Overall the book is a very solid read – the characters are believable, the setting is good (what better for a crime story than Chicago), and the story sets things up well for moving onwards into a full-fledged series. Nick Mason #2 will definitely be on my to-read list the moment it is announced.
Editor's note: This review was written by Nicholas Watkins, originally published in Literature is Life, and has been reposted with permission. It is available under Creative Commons and the original page can be found here.