Life hasn’t gotten any easier for Nick Mason, who agreed to a get-out-of-prison deal after serving only five years of a 25-year-to-life sentence. But it was an agreement with the devil in the form of Darius Cole, who while serving a double-life prison term, masterminds his crime organization.
The deal? Cole sets Nick up in a spectacular mansion on Chicago’s Gold Coast that comes with an only-in-your-dreams sports car and all the other accoutrements of a wealthy life. But to stay free—and to stay alive—Nick has to do Cole’s ultra-dirty work.
“Nick gets himself in all sorts of trouble, doesn’t he?” says best-selling author Steve Hamilton, with a laugh, during a chat about his newest Nick Mason book, "Exit Strategy" (G.P. Putnam's Sons 2017; $26). “The first book, 'The Second Life of Nick Mason,' which is being made into a movie, was about him getting out of prison and dealing with the life he is forced into. Now he knows he can’t keep doing it, he’s already becoming something he doesn’t recognize, doesn’t like and he has to change it.”
This time around, Cole wants Nick to infiltrate the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program so he can identify and kill the three men responsible for his incarceration.
“This new book really emphasizes that for Nick there really is no way out,” says Hamilton, one of only two authors to win Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards for both best novel and best first novel.
Adding to Nick’s considerable difficulties, Cole, who has escaped from prison, is hunting him down as is the policeman who originally put Nick in prison.
Always seeking to add authenticity to his fiction, Hamilton worked with an assistant federal prosecutor to learn all about the system and create the terrifying world Nick Mason operates in.
“I was in Chicago recently and as I drove to the airport, going past those towers, I told my wife underneath those towers is a secret prison,” says Hamilton. “She said, 'There is?' And I said, 'In my book there is.'”
FYI: Steve Hamilton will do a book signing from 2 to 2:45 p.m. Sunday at Jones College Prep in Chicago. For more information, visit authorstevehamilton.com.