Putnam/Penguin Random House, $26.00, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57432-0
Author Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series won an Edgar Award and captured a boatload of other major crime fiction distinctions, including two listings on the New York Times notable books of the year roster. Pretty impressive, to say the least. Now, he’s begun a new series with an anti-hero protagonist that’s creating an earthquake in the Crime Fiction genre, and a stampede amongst the most recognizable authors in the world for the right to say “I saw him first.”
The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton is the tour-de-force debut of a new series character that’s receiving rave reviews from everyone who reads it . . . including me.
Nick Mason’s stacking time in a maximum security federal penitentiary. He’s done five of the twenty-five year sentence for a confrontation that left one of his friends and a Chicago police officer dead, and two other accomplices on the loose. But Nick’s been a stand-up guy. All through the interrogation and trial, he’s kept his mouth shut, never gave up the names of the others who got away and for the last five years he’s neither given nor taken any grief from the other convicts . . . he’s just swallowed his pain, signed the divorce papers when they came and done his time, day by day by day. Then a guard passes him a message: Mr. Cole wants to see you. Darius Cole is a mastermind running a criminal empire from behind bars. He’s serving “all night and a day . . . life without parole in prison slang . . . two life terms and in his case, he doesn’t take no for an answer. Not ever. He makes Nick an offer he can’t refuse and within a few weeks Nick’s been exonerated—the cop who caught him recanted his testimony—and he’s out, living in luxury, driving a vintage muscle car and has plenty of money to spend. But there’s a catch. Whenever his cell phone rings, Nick has to answer and do whatever the caller tells him to . . . or those he holds dearest will suffer the consequences. As Nick is forced into more and more violent acts, he finds he’s made a deal with the devil and trapped himself in a Faustian bargain that keeps him from ever regaining control of his life, or reconnecting with his ex-wife and the daughter he loves so much.
The novel starts at full-throttle on page one, and never slows down with relentless pacing continuous action and plot twists that come from every angle. Read it, and see for yourself why the likes of Lee Child, Don Winslow, Michael Connelly and old Stephen King himself, wrote such enthusiastic blurbs on the dust jacket, and get in on the ground floor of what promises to be an awesome new series. I’m all in on this one. It turns the crime fiction genre inside out, and damn; Its good!