Series: Nick Mason #1
Published by Penguin on May 17, 2016
Professional Talk about The Second Life of Nick Mason
The Second Life of Nick Mason is an unconventional crime thriller that asks the audience to trust Nick Mason, long-time thief released from prison twenty years early. He returns home to Chicago as another kind of prisoner—slave to the whims of Darius Cole, a man who runs an empire from his prison cell and is responsible for Nick’s release. In exchange for a lavish lifestyle, all Nick has to do is answer the phone when it rings and carry out the job instructions given to him. When he’s forced to kill a man (the one thing he swore to himself he’d never do), Nick faces a crisis like no other. He’s forced to balance ethics and responsibility with the second life Darius Cole has given him. While this is a solid start to a new series, The Second Life of Nick Mason isn’t without its problems. The book is too short for the story it needs to tell. Hamilton truncates two story lines, leaving the story itself feeling rushed. The female characters are largely superficial and under developed, especially Nick’s love interest. Nevertheless, Hamilton’s well-written unconventional hero is enough to keep this reviewer sticking around for the next book. Verdict: Borrow it, but don’t quit the series just yet. Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone books started off rocky too but has grown into a series worthy of the thriller genre. This reviewer has faith that Hamilton will do right by Nick Mason and is willing to wait it out.
Personal Talk about The Second Life of Nick Mason
With powerhouse blurbs from Michael Connelly, Stephen King, Don Winslow, Lee Child, and Harlan Coben, my expectations were high. The first third of the book met those expectations. The rest let me down. Harlan Coben has it right: “Nick Mason is one of the best main character I’ve read in years.” I agree here. He’s an anti-hero that we shouldn’t like but inevitably do like because his heart is in the right place.
The story’s execution let me down, not the main characters. The book just isn’t long enough. Another fifty to one hundred pages would do the trick. It would have given Hamilton the room to explore some truncated story lines more, and it certainly would have given him more room to flesh out the women in this story. They’re borderline stereotypical and wholly superficial and under developed. Diana is the only woman who showed some true character depth. Hamilton can and must do better in the next book to keep me reading. The reading market is mostly women. Statistically, they’re reading James Patterson’s novels more than men, so it’s not like the mystery/thriller genres are off-limits.
I really enjoyed the unspoken bromance that developed between Nick and his handler, Quintero. They have the potential to become a powerhouse duo. I also loved the Chicago setting. It’s my favorite city, and so few books in the genre use Chicago as the setting. New York and LA are the big favorites.
I have a weird annoyance. The only thing Nick Mason drinks is Goose Island beer. It was really cumbersome to read, “he ordered a Goose Island” the ten-ish time it shows up in the story. I know people have their drink of choice. That’s fine, it was just worded repetitiously throughout.
In the end, I’ll be back for the next book. With a character like Nick, how could I not?
© 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.