Nick Mason, who has been killing people for Darius Cole, the all-powerful inmate who got him sprung from a maximum security prison in exchange for such services, is targeted himself after initiating a scheme to free himself from Cole's clutches.
In Hamilton's acclaimed series debut, The Second Life of Nick Mason (2016), the embattled protagonist agreed to do Cole's lethal bidding after serving five years of a 25-to-life sentence (for a killing he did not commit) so he could see his 9-year-old daughter again. He was set up in a luxury apartment in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, a far cry from the working-class South Side community where he had been a small-time criminal. In the sequel, Mason is ordered to penetrate seemingly impenetrable federal witness protection facilities and kill former associates of Cole's set to testify against him in a retrial. Attempting to regain control of his life, Mason has to contend with not only Cole's henchmen, but also a scary Irish assassin with ties to the crime lord. Moral considerations get short shrift, and Hamilton is nothing if not expedient in dispatching characters, including the attractive pet shop owner with whom Mason is involved. And those who haven't read the first installment will miss quite a bit in terms of context and character development. But when it comes to no-nonsense, pressure-cooker plotting, Hamilton has few rivals. The book starts turning up the heat from the start with an office building bombing and maintains its breathless pacing until the end.
Though this book lacks the depth of the series opener, its hard-wired plot and adrenaline-fueled scenes make it another must-read for fans of lean, mean crime fiction.