Featured Review: ‘Exit Strategy’ By Steve Hamilton

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Several months ago, Nick Mason made a life-altering deal with Darius Cole, the kingpin of a vast criminal organization. Terms were simple–Cole would help secure an early release for Mason, who still had twenty years left on his prison sentence for past crimes, in exchange for his services remaining on Cole’s payroll for the next two decades.

In theory, the deal sounds pretty good. Especially when you add in that Mason gets ten thousand dollars a month deposited into a secret bank account for him to use. He also gets to live in a beautiful, luxurious townhouse that overlooks Lake Michigan on the north side of Chicago, and access to an unlimited supply of fast, expensive cars.

Mason took the deal, in part, to be close with his wife and daughter, and walked out of jail after the police officer who testified against him had a sudden change of heart and changed his story, thanks to the “urging” of Cole’s crew. 

However, while he may be out of prison, Nick Mason is far from a free man. In fact, he’s anything but…

Mason simply traded in one sentence for another and now lives imprisoned to Cole and the tasks he assigns, which are becoming increasingly more dangerous. What started as carrying out petty crimes soon blossomed into breaking and entering, stealing, and, eventually, killing.

A former career criminal on Chicago’s south side, Cole tabbed Mason to be his new muscle, and with a single phone call sends Nick off to handle various problems as they arise. That’s the catch, really, to Mason’s new life. The Darius Cole-issued phone is to be on his person at all times, no excuses. When it rings, he’s to answer and then immediately follow any instructions, day or night, no questions asked.

After the events of last year’s novel, The Second Life of Nick Mason, which features Nick running errands for Cole while also taking on a unit of dirty cops and trying to get his wife (who has since moved in with another man) back, Steve Hamilton raised the stakes considerably in his latest thriller.

This time around, Cole–who, thanks to a technicality, was just awarded a new trial after previously being sentenced to two life terms–tasks Mason with tracking down and eliminating the three men scheduled to testify against him in court. The catch is that each man is currently being protected inside the WITSEC program, which has never been infiltrated before.

Wasting no time to draw readers in, Exit Strategy opens with a bang as Mason goes after the first witness. But, once the good men and women of the Federal Witness Protection Program put the puzzle pieces together and realize Cole’s plan, they harden down security for the remaining two witnesses, securing them in a pair of off-the-books military bases guarded by both U.S. Marshalls and armed military personnel.

With the odds stacked so firmly against him, Mason’s assignment is nearly impossible. Failure to succeed would mean bad things for his ex-wife and daughter, though, who Cole keeps under surveillance and promises to harm should Nick ever fail to follow orders, get caught by the police, or try to run from their agreement.

While making plans to take out the highly-guarded witnesses, Mason also starts developing an exit strategy, determined to leave his life as Cole’s criminal errand boy behind and to keep his family safe once and for all.

Hamilton brilliantly weaves Mason’s personal life with his professional life, and while he’s an anti-hero, the author still finds ways to make readers root for his main character. We’ve all done things we regret, making it easy to connect with that side of Mason. But what if your mistake led to you going to prison for nearly thirty years, wrecking your family and hurting everyone you love in the process?

To most, Cole’s offer would seem like a lifeline worth grabbing hold of, which Mason does, only to find out it puts the very people he so badly wants to win back in danger. Nick’s heart is in the right place, but he can’t catch a break, which will make readers long for his freedom and family nearly as much as he does. 

Written with blazing-fast pacing, Exit Strategy is Hamilton’s most gritty, action-packed novel so far. Between the many blood-pumping action sequences and relentless suspense, the pages practically turn themselves as Hamilton will have readers racing to see if Nick Mason can actually pull off the impossible–leading up to a shock ending that will have fans begging for the next novel.

Whatever you’re looking for, Exit Strategy has a little something for everyone and delivers enough thrills to keep even the pickiest crime fans happy. Circle the date on the calendar, Steve Hamilton’s latest one-night-read is not to be missed!

Book Details

Author: Steve Hamilton
Series: Nick Mason #2
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399574387
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons 
Release Date: April 4, 2017 (Order Now!)

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