The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton

It’s hard to say which I liked more: the unlikely hero who is Nick Mason, or the setting in the back of the Yards. The Chicago Stockyards that is, a place which I know for a fact held many of the bravest, toughest, strongest men in the Midwest. My father, and my grandfather, were two of them. But they were cattlemen, not cops. Nor were they involved in a life of crime.

But Nick Mason, a guy I liked immediately much as I liked the Corleone family, has had a life of crime and had to pay. He began stealing cars with his best friends as a youth, and escaped each time until a deal went terribly wrong.

When we meet him, he is stepping out of prison a free man. Yet he is only a free man for a matter of seconds, because he has been set free by Cole, a man who will be incarcerated forever but still wields tremendous power from inside his jail cell. He has determined that Mason can do his bidding, which Mason does.

For awhile.

The Second Life of Nick Mason  is a fascinating book, not only in story, but in looking at life’s questions. Are we stuck in the life that our choices have made for us? Are we free to decide for ourselves? And, is it possible to reroute a life path gone wrong?

I loved it, have already passed it to a colleague at school who cannot eat lunch without the book in his hands.

8 thoughts on “The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton”

    1. Don’t you get frustrated when you’ve turned down an arc that everyone loves? I remember doing that with Bittersweet, and I’m sure there have been others. This was a great read, a great story, and maybe you can find a copy even from your library.


  1. Usually, I’m none too fond of overly testosterone-driven narratives like this but you have certainly piqued my interest — especially since the central questions and themes are close to my heart. I certainly want to believe that failure is impermanent and your self-improvement is what people remember, but sometimes life feels like it’s the other way around. This seems a hopeful, restorative novel. Will look further into it.


    1. I have such a penchant for “thrillers”, for “testosterone driven narratives” as you so cleverly put it, that I didn’t even notice that facet until you mentioned it. Robert B. Parker’s Spenser has long been a favorite of mine, and I loved Jason Bourne from the novel, not as Matt Damon, but this does have a hopeful element that his life is able to find restoration of some sort. I also really like the introspective quality it has.


  2. Bellezza, I also like unlikely heroes. This is the type of book I wouldn’t ordinarily consider reading, but your terrific review has left me tempted.


    1. Ah, unlikely heroes. They are unsung so often, and all the more appreciated by me. (I’ll never forget the Virginian by Own Wister, one of my favorite heroes ever.)


  3. Meredith, it has been way too long since I have visited your blog 😦 Events of this last year have caused me to neglect by own blog and kept me from visiting others. But I am determined to change that!! I am looking this book up today as I just finished one and am ready for a new one!


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