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Publisher's Summary

From New York Times best-selling, two-time Edgar Award-winning author Steve Hamilton comes an unforgettable new hero - a man who will walk out of prison and into a harrowing double life that is anything but free.

Nick Mason has already spent five years inside a maximum security prison when an offer comes that will grant his release 20 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.

©2016 Steve Hamilton (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Steve Hamilton amazes me. Every time I think he's going to zig he zags." (Michael Connelly)
"A gamechanger. Nick Mason is one of the best main characters I've read in years." (Harlan Coben)
"What a fascinating, complex audiobook.... [Narrator Ray Porter's] portrayal of a criminal who is fiercely loyal to his friends and family is outstanding. He conveys the constant pressure and tension felt by Mason with his speech patterns and a tone of raw emotion always held in check." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Second Life of Nick Mason

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    440
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    384
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    176
  • 2 Stars
    64
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    12
Performance
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    369
  • 4 Stars
    329
  • 3 Stars
    177
  • 2 Stars
    69
  • 1 Stars
    21

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Rock and hard place plot

This is like no mystery I've ever read and I can't see how Hamilton will write another in this series as good as this book. This is a complex plot, this life of Nick Mason's. He gets up, goes to work, deals with management and his co-workers, then he gets off work and deals with family, friends, and foes. Though this sounds simple, Mason's life is different. I'll leave it at that. It is a suspenseful thriller that had me rewinding to be sure I understood what happened.

Porter did a very good job with two exceptions. The women "sounded" the same. Several of the more menacing statements began to sound the same by different men. The plot is third-person, but I adored hearing Porter's omniscient narration.

This. Book. Is. Good.

Really, really good.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great- different than the McKnight Books

Set in Urban Chicago and not the desolate Michigan U.P. like most of his other books.
Many are probably not familiar with Steve Hamilton, since in the past he was considered to be a "Michigan" writer (according to the NYTiimes), Steve writes fast paced action books. Is this book the main character makes a bargain with an evil character, who can get him released from jail, but in return he has to do whatever he request for the next twenty years.
Great narration, good character development. You can tell this is being developed to be another series like McKnight. In the McKnight series the main character was a reluctant private detective, in this series the main character is a reluctant hit man.
Hopefully Hamilton will continue to write McKnight books and I look forward to seeing how this Nick Mason character deals with his situation in the next book.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Melodramatic but gripping.

Would you listen to The Second Life of Nick Mason again? Why?

Probably not. It is pretty gory, and there is no humor in it. I'm glad I listened to it, but I don't think that a second listen would yield all that much.

What did you like best about this story?

The plot is clever. The idea of a large gangster running a whole lot of Chicago from a prison cell is kind of fascinating. I know that it is fiction, but you do hear of Mafia guys who have done stuff like this in the past. Darius Cole is a true monster, easy to hate. Nick Mason gets roped into Cole's world in a toxic way. The plot grabs you. I liked it.

What does Ray Porter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Ray Porter is great, at a whole lot of things. He does female characters better than most male narrators. And he makes the dialogue, which can be so melodramatic as to be nauseating, fairly easy to listen to. I have listened to a lot of books that he has read, and I almost always like his work.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. I can't do that. It is exciting and it does draw you into the pace of the plot. But I could not sit down and listen for twelve hours, or whatever it is, to anything. I need potty breaks, at the very least.

Any additional comments?

I couldn't get through The Lock Artist, so I am glad that this book is so much better than the other. Nick Mason is a fully-drawn human being who is trapped in a vise that will not let him go, all the while squeezing the blood out of him. It is very entertaining to listen to him struggle against it. I hope that this is the beginning of a series.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Superb Chicago Noir

The plot is superb. Surprising twists, nothing is ever easy, nothing goes as expected. Characters are well-drawn tough guys.

The reader is terrific. Sounds like John Belushi in Ghostbusters.

Negatives: cars were too much to believe. I can't believe the author saved the final wrenching twist. Take that back. The ending is pre shadowed and organic. Great ending. Great book.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great Chicago noir thriller......

Nick Mason is serving twenty years in a security jail for a crime that did not commit when he gets freedom and a new start in life. However, he is in debt to a mafia boss and needs to fulfil all his wishes.
The book is well written, dramatic and fast-paced, with sound character development and a good flavour of Chicago. All this is largely enough to make the reader forget that Nick Mason is not truly a likeable character and that the plot is not always credible.
I loved it and recommend to all those who love the "noir" thrillers...

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good Read.

What made the experience of listening to The Second Life of Nick Mason the most enjoyable?

I really enjoyed the pace of the book, and it din't skip around as much as the Lock Artist which was nice.

What other book might you compare The Second Life of Nick Mason to and why?

The Second Life of Nick Mason reminds me of The Lock Artist another Steve Hamilton book.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed listening to this book, but the use of the F word was a little overused. But overall was a good book to listen to.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Unsettling and a little unfulfilling

The story isn't really groundbreaking, but it's well told. It's hard to identify exactly what it was about the book that left me wanting more, especially without giving away too many details, but it feels somewhat linear. I would have liked a little better build up and a little more resolution. Still, it's better than a lot of stuff out there today.

Well written and a good performance, but ultimately not the experience I was hoping for.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bit cussy, but a good plot.

I’m a big fan of Ray Porter as narrator. In fact I told a good friend that one of the things I like is that he’s a smooth cusser.
Yep, he’s so smooth in this book I don’t realize it’s cussy until I’m listening in front of my small child who is learning to speak.
So... content is not child, grandma, or prudish spouse worthy.
The plot however has depth, its edgy without giving bad dreams, and the narrator is smooooth.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book!

I’m not usually up for crime novels but this one’s pretty great.
RECOMMEND! Great characters and voice performance by Ray Porter.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing - Good start then fades

There's no such thing as an interesting book without conflict. It is conflict that makes a story interesting. However, its also true that when every character and situation is another conflict, more drama, the story gets annoying.

Nick is an interesting guy at first. A small time crook who end up in a big time drug deal that goes south. A DEA agent is killed so Nick goes to jail for homicide. But enter Darius Cole, the inmate in charge at the prison. A little far fetched. Cole arranges for Nick's sentence to gt reversed. Turns a good cop bod. With Nick out he has to do Cole's bidding. But he gets to drive a 68 Mustang Fast Back, then a 68 Camaro SS. Then his ex-wife marries into upper society. So we have the drama with the daughter and the step father, Steve forces the the conflict and drama rather than letting the people just be normal interesting people. Then there's the detective. He's the guy who put Nick, the small time crook turned $50-Million drug dealer - away on the DEA murder charge. He somehow makes a connection to a cop, in Chicago being murdered to Nick the guy who was released from prison yesterday. Unfortunately Steve never solidifies the story.

The roommate at Cole's house is also a drama story. The DEA agent leaves a wife and three children behind, and is a friend of the detective... more drama. The drama between the detective and the drug task force is over played.

Steve overplay the conflict and drama to the point where after 17 chapters I couldn't takes it anymore. I turned this one in to find a more interesting story.

1 person found this helpful