- Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Steve Hamilton’s attention to craft and character has earned him respect from both his readers and peers. Whether it be the standalones like The Lock Artist or his series featuring Alex McKnight, he knows how a story unfolds. This is especially true in his latest, The Second Life Of Nick Mason.
Nick Mason is a con doing a twenty-five year stretch when Darius Cole, a crime lord who runs his empire from prison, takes Nick under his wing. Cole gives Nick a proposition: Nick can get out twenty years early if he works for Cole.
Nick takes the offer. He’s given a high life with a plush apartment, fine suits, a few cars, and plenty of money. He is also given a cell phone he has to answer at all times and do whatever he is told to do. Most of the requests are crimes that escalate in severity. Nick struggles with this deal he has made with the Devil as the cop who put him away closes in and the woman he loves and his daughter are put in jeopardy.
Hamilton’s craft touches art in this book. He presents us with a great premise that he builds on and never betrays. Every plot point, character, and theme has fallen perfectly in place by the last page. He never gets in the way of his story. Instead of bogging down the novel with alliteration, he chooses a crisp Dashiell Hammett style with just the right minimal amount of words to evoke the world Nick has to navigate.
The Second Life Of Nick Mason is the epitome of everything strong in the genre as it taps into those feelings we have about being trapped in our lives. It has well constructed reveals and vivid cops and criminals that could move on both sides of the law. You can not call yourself a crime fiction fan and not read this.