Title: Exit Strategy (Nick Mason #2)
Author: Steve Hamilton
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Genre: Thriller, Sequel
In the follow-up to The Second Life of Nick Mason, the remarkable hero fights to take back control from the crime lord who owns his life, as he races to complete a daring and dangerous new mission. . . .
Nick Mason has been given a true mission impossible: Infiltrate WITSEC, the top-secret federal witness-protection program that has never been compromised, locate the three men who put his boss Darius Cole behind bars for life, and kill them.
But first he has to find them—they’re ghost prisoners locked down around the clock in classified “deep black” locations by an battalion of heavily armed U.S. marshals charged with protecting them—and the clock is ticking. Cole is appealing his conviction, and these witnesses are either his ticket to freedom or the final nail in his coffin. If they testify, Darius Cole will never step foot in the outside world again. If they are killed, he will walk out a free man.
As he risks everything to complete his mission, Mason finds himself being hunted by the very man he replaced, the ruthless assassin who once served, then betrayed, Darius Cole. Rather than waiting to be Mason’s next victim, he has escaped witness protection to hunt down and kill Mason himself.
In an action-packed journey that leads from a high-security military installation in the Appalachian Mountains to a secret underground bunker hidden far below the streets of New York City, Nick Mason will have to become, more than ever before, the lethal weapon that Darius Cole created.
I was introduced to Steve Hamilton, and in turn Nick Mason, through a Twitter recommendation from author Don Winslow (The Cartel, The Force). Mason, a new character for Hamilton, had an intriguing story. The reader is introduced to Mason in The Second Life of Nick Mason, where we find Mason in prison for at least 20 years. That is until Darius Cole introduces himself. Cole ran Chicago before he was arrested and still runs it from his prison cell. He gives Mason the chance of a lifetime: a ticket out of prison. Thing is, he will be at the mercy of Cole. Whatever he wants done, Mason has to do it. As you can imagine, the things Cole wants done aren’t exactly law-abiding. At the end of the first book (another highly recommended read), Mason is firmly in the clutches of Cole and desperately looking for a way out for the sake of those closest to him, especially his ex-wife and daughter.
In Exit Strategy, Hamilton ratchets up the action BIG TIME! Mason is still completing jobs for Cole while looking for an escape. Cole is also looking for his own escape: he’s trying to buy his way out of prison. Along the way we meet who I consider my favourite character of the series to date: Sean Burke. Burke is a former operative of the IRA who once worked for Cole. As a potential witness against Cole, Burke has to go. Only it’s not that easy. Burke is a capable fighter who is absolutely merciless. He is written wonderfully and a joy to read about, as twisted as that may sound!
Along with the action comes a few casualties. Without spoiling anything, there is a high body count in this novel. It’s as if Hamilton is hitting the reset button for the third novel. New enemies are revealed, some old ones are cast aside. I can’t wait to see what happens next! I highly recommend this novel and this series in general.
*A huge thank you to Steve Hamilton for my copy of the novel!*
5 out of 5 Big Bald Heads!