THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON by Steve Hamilton
The Second Life of Nick Mason is a strange and uneven book, but it’s one of those that once I started reading, I had to follow it through to the end to see what happened next. Which is the pull at the heart of every successful thriller.
I’ve read and enjoyed Steve Hamilton’s Alex McKnight series, and some of his stand-alone stuff, and figured this one would be an easy pick. I settled in with it and rolled with the flow for a while, but I started asking questions. A lot of questions, which I shouldn’t be doing while reading.
For me, there was too much left unexplained. I had to swallow pretty hard at the whole get-out-of-prison early angle, but I went with it because overlooking such things is necessary to enjoy a larger-than-life story. However, as I went along, things became more and more unbelievable.
You see, Nick agrees to an early release through the machinations of Darius Cole, a crime kingpin who is currently behind bars for the rest of his natural life, in order to get back to his family. I figure Cole’s situation behind bars will change at some point and Cole will become a total head-on villain. And I know that sometimes smart criminals can run organizations from within the walls of prisons.
However, I struggled to see how Nick could step into the life of an assassin so easily. During his own criminal days, Nick worked hard to make sure no one got killed. It was one of his rules.
The motivation is there, sure, but the change within the man was more like flipping a switch. There are certain skills to acquire before taking on this kind of life, and a definite mindset that a guy has to slip into. Nick has got his plate full of trying to balance his old life and his new life, probably too much to transition the way it happens in the book.
However, Hamilton keeps the story moving along, provides Nick with muscle car after muscle car for the nostalgia buffs among his readers, and throws in several wrinkles and curves out of left field.
This novel isn’t cut from the same cloth as the McKnight series. Hamilton definitely veers into new territory. Backtracking the book’s history, I discovered that Hamilton had changed publishers because of it. It’s an interesting story and I encourage those of you who might be interested to look it up and see what you think.
I enjoyed the book a lot overall, but I got the feeling this was more the pilot episode of a summer television series. The story has only gotten underway, but I’m definitely picking up the second book to see where it goes.