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Exit Strategy

by Steve Hamilton

Series: Nick Mason (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
13211164,019 (3.6)19
In the stunning follow-up to the New York Times bestseller 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.… (more)
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Nick Mason is still trapped in the deal he made - get out of prison as a free man but spend the next 20 years as the killer for a Chicago drug boss. Nick is not an angel but he still has a conscience so even if he goes around and kills everyone who is pointed to him, he tries to just incapacitate anyone else who gets caught in the crossfire.

The first novel never revealed while exactly the drug boss, Darius Cole, needed Nick specifically - while he is good at what he does, one would imagine that there were a lot of other people who could do the job. Having Mason's daughter and ex-wife to keep him obedient did not really made it enough. This novel finally gets to what the long term plan was - killing minor rivals and annoyances was never the point.

Cole is in prison for life - unless he manages to overturn his sentence. And that's exactly what he had been working on - with legal (and extra-legal) means until he is granted and retrial - and then with Nick there to kill everyone who can keep him in jail.

And Nick does what he is asked to - even when he understands what that may mean, he cannot afford not to. The chase and murders are almost cinematographic, even the choppy structure of the chapters adds to that feeling. But somewhere in the middle of all that, Nick finally rebels - and start looking at the ways he can escape his bonds.

A lot of people die - some killed by Nick, some go down while trying to deal with an unwilling witness, some as just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every time you can see the noose slipping from Nick's neck, something puts it back - tighter than ever. Being around Mason is a lethal business - and if you get too close, you need to run or you die. Especially if you are a woman.

And then the end pulls the rug from under everyone's feet. When I read the first book in this series, it was built as a standalone, allowing for a continuation. This second novel does not even pretend that it is not a series book - the story itself is closed but this ending is an opening for the next book and for a new direction for the series.

The third book in the series was scheduled for 2019 but never came out. I had not seen a new date for this book so it is unclear if it is still in the works or if Hamilton gave up on it. I hope it comes out one day. ( )
2 vote AnnieMod | Aug 5, 2021 |
This is the second book in a series featuring Nick Mason, a man recently released from prison thanks to the machinations of Darius Cole, a powerful Chicago drug lord. Cole didn't arrange for Nick's release because he's such a great guy, but because he wants Mason to kill Cole's enemies for him. Nick doesn't want to do any of this but Cole has leveled threats against his ex-wife and daughter to keep Nick on his payroll. Mason now realizes he was better off staying in prison because his indentured servitude to Cole is becoming increasingly more dangerous.

In Exit Strategy Cole has been awarded a new trial based on a technicality. He tasks Mason with tracking down and killing the three men scheduled to testify against him in court. Each of the witnesses is being protected by the agents of the Federal Witness Protection program, which has never been infiltrated before. In between tracking down witnesses, Nick desperately tries to put together an exit strategy that will get him out from under the life that threatens to destroy him.

This is a remarkably fast paced action thriller with lots of violence and killing. The author does a fantastic job of giving us characters that are both surprising and absolutely distinct from others in the genre. This book tears along at break-neck speed, leading to an unexpected conclusion. Nick Mason is not a heroic character but he's definitely a fascinating one. I can't wait to see what happens to him in the next book. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jul 2, 2020 |
The premise of 'Exit Strategy' is that a man who has become involved in organized crime is forced by his "boss" to commit murder whenever ordered so as to eliminate anyone who is a threat to the organization. The protagonist, Nick Mason, is unleashed from time to time and kills as ordered, often outnumbered, outgunned and at a distinct disadvantage. Somehow, he is able to overcome all odds and succeed in his lethal encounters. Mason is painted as an unstoppable Angel of Death type. Supposedly, he is a reluctant hit man, and Steve Hamilton tries to give him some humanity by showing his interest in not killing innocents. The premise doesn't hold with the action. Mason outthinks and outwits all his opposition and succeeds every time, despite the odds, yet he is shown as totally incapable of figuring out how to cancel the bosses leverage over him - the threat to kill those important to him if he were to refuse or to fail. Hence, the Exit Strategy is his lame plan to get out from under. The story fails miserably as there is no reason to identify with Nick Mason as some kind of "good guy forced to do bad things", it simply doesn't wash. I did not enjoy this book and regret spending the time necessary to read it all the way through. It was clearly written with a sequel in mind, one I will never bother reading, as I don't think anything written by Steve Hamilton would be worth the effort. I'd give it a rating of less than 1/2 star if one was available. ( )
  MikeBruscellSr | Feb 9, 2020 |
This more than the first Nick Mason delivered a real change of pace relative to Hamilton's other books. Explosive, bone-crunching action, dodgy moral foundation and a pervasive sense of claustrophobia kept me turning the page, hoping for a satisfying conclusion. Instead you get a gleefully cavalier attitude towards the supporting cast and a genuine sense that anything could happen now. Efficient and entertaining. ( )
  asxz | Mar 13, 2019 |
Second installment of the Nick Mason series. Nick has been assigned to take out witnesses in the witness protection system who testified against Darius Cole. In the meantime, everyone he knows and loves is in danger. Taut thriller, gruesome and graphic violence, eerie consequences. Nick's life is forever changed. ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 22, 2019 |
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To Julia

Again and always
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You kill one person, it changes you.
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In the stunning follow-up to the New York Times bestseller 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.

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