Friday, January 13, 2017

The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steven Hamilton

Hamilton definitely does a good anti-hero story. By all rights, Nick Mason isn't the kind of character most of us would empathize with, growing up rough and getting into a habit of crime with a small gang of petty thieves through his teen years. He tries to go straight when he marries the love of his life and has a daughter, but the lure of one last big score is too much for him to pass up, and when the job goes bad, a friend gets killed, and he lands in prison for twenty years, everything he wanted is now lost.

The story picks up after Nick has spend five years in jail, when a crime lord who is also behind bars picks Nick to be his outside man, and arranges for the evidence that convicted him to be tainted, so that he is released early, on the condition that Nick will do whatever the boss commands. The boss's business associates back home are getting out of line, and a group of corrupt cops are grabbing a piece of the action, so Nick's assignments involve killing people who are betraying the boss.

Like I said, not exactly the kind of hero I'd pick, but somehow Hamilton makes it work, and makes us root for Nick, perhaps in the slight hope that there is redemption somewhere to be found, and that he can eventually break the chains that bind him to the crime lord and finally go straight. A dark tale, but engrossing and well written.

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