Exit Strategy (Nick Mason #2)

Exit Strategy Book Cover Exit Strategy
Nick Mason
Steve Hamilton
Thriller
G.P. Putnam's Sons
May 16, 2017
Hardcover
289

In the follow-up to 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.

 

This review will contain spoilers for the first Nick Mason book, The Second Life of Nick Mason.

Exit Strategy is the second book in the Nick Mason series, picking up shortly where the first book left off. The previous title, the Second Life of Nick Mason, was a fantastic thriller novel. I read the whole thing in one sitting because it just blew me away. The sequel, not so much. The dynamic of the story and characters shifts a lot over the course of Exit Strategy. It felt like Steve Hamilton decided he wanted to change a bunch of things about this series. And then decided the best way to do that was with piles of bodies and other character write-offs.

Any thriller story, be it a book or a movie, is going to have a main character who is a one-man army. Jason Bourne, John Wick, and others like them all leave literal scores of dead men in their wake. Usually characters are given a backstory that explains this, like being former black ops or raised by a paramilitary family. Nick Mason is set up as a small-time criminal with a code of honor, yet his body count rivals Rambo’s. Mason being able to outfox a federal organization, even with the help of a crime boss, is just too much. But if you want detailed descriptions of people being broken, beaten, and otherwise injured, Exit Strategy will not disappoint.

The characterization in the first book was one of its strongest points. In Exit Strategy, it was just too rushed. Everything that happens in this book felt like it could have been spread over three or so novels. That way the story would have had more meat on its bones. Imagine if the first two or three Jason Bourne films had all been crammed into one movie. Exit Strategy was like that. Events just escalated too quickly to be believable and the big reveal at the end felt too soon.

There will be a sequel to Exit Strategy with the way the book ends. Whether book #3 gets the series back to where it was in book #1 is up in the air. If you keep the first book in mind, this book could potentially warrant itself as 4-stars. Standalone, it is 3-stars hands-down. By no means is it a bad book, but it is a bland book. We will see how the next Nick Mason installment pans out.

October 8, 2017

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