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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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    371
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    54
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Performance

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Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lesia
  • Winona, MS, United States
  • 06-01-16

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.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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

16 of 16 people found this review 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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • antonio
  • genthod, Switzerland
  • 12-31-17

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...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

7 of 8 people found this review 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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • tallevast, FL, United States
  • 01-05-17

If not for Ray Porter

It's too bad really. I thought this would be as good as the lock artist. The only book so far I've listen to by Steve Hamilton. I'm OK if I believe that certain things will never happen in real life, but this pushed the barriers of silliness. The characters were OK, and of course Ray Porter is great, but Nick Mason was too tough & Too rebellious. Let's make pretend fantasy, And say that everything took place in order for Nick Mason to get out of prison.. Then were supposed to believe that he's talking tough to stone cold killers.. Without them killing this guy. I call shenanigans on the fact that he was the only one that can do what needed to be done. Then he totally rebelles at the end, and even I would've shot him, but we're supposed to believe this viscous drug lord and his cold blooded sidekick, just let Nick Mason off the hook like he's too invaluable to like go.. uhhhhh.... Somebody write something with some substance over here

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

Just shoot....

Me now if this does not move to a series. Between the ending and the myriad of potential story lines.
One of the best thrillers I have read good narration is only s plus.
First time for this author but I am already looking for my next read from Steve Hamilton; Thanks Steve!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

A Writer's Writer Tries for the Series Gold Ring

What would have made The Second Life of Nick Mason better?

Hamilton is a critically acclaimed author and mystery series award winner. He even has an Edgar. He apparently doesn't have sales volume. So he created Nick Mason, an anti-hero--a small time Chicago thug imprisoned for 20 and strikes a deal with a devil to sell his soul for a lifetime of crime in order to get out. So he ends up in this fantasy townhouse with lots of muscle cars, an untouchable beautiful woman as a roommate, a pet store manager as his girlfriend, a happily married ex-wife and a 10 year old daughter whom he watches from afar as she plays soccer and a string of violent murders that he commits with the help of his master's on site handler, probably the most interesting character in the story, a Latin gang-banger, Quitaro. Nick of course has a heart of gold--he's molded on Jack Reacher and Hamilton puts him in the same comic book impossible and implausible situations so he can hero his way out. But Reacher does it with brains and brawn. Mason basically shoots to kill, and then does the self-reflective guilt--did I really do that--but to remain somewhat moral, he only shoots really bad guys and really dirty cops. The clichés fly by in this story. Even the characters are sterotyped. The Jarvais cop, the imprisoned master, the hapless and cowardly friend who at least can shot straight. And its derivative. When he's not channeling Lee Childs, he copies Preston and Child and their penchant for underground caves and labryniths. The best scene in the book is a shoot out in a water tunnel in a stone quarry in Chicago. And of course it ends with a cliff hanger as our anti-hero leaves his warm bed and girlfriend to go off, who knows where--Others can wait for volume 2. I won't. Only Ray Porter's narration kept me involved to the end. He has just the right tone of menace and dread.

Any additional comments?

Hamilton is respected by writers like Stephen King that I respect and why I listened to this book. What a disappointment. I know he changed publishers. Did he also try to change his style? This reads like a old fashioned dime novel. I didn't know they wrote those anymore.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful