Thursday, May 10, 2018

Noise in Ears: "The Second Life of Nick Mason" by Steve Hamilton

Noise in Ears: The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton, 2016, downloaded from the Wisconsin Digital Library.

Let's start off with a Internet Gun Nerd Gripe:  During the aftermath of a shooting one character is recalling his 29 year police career and how he'd carried the same pistol that whole time. Hamilton says the pistol is a SIG P250 in .45ACP. Well, now... let's see here, shall we? According to my Internet Computer Box the SIG 250 appeared in 2007. This book came out in 2016. Therefore, a 29 year career means the character started work in about 1987.

(I will write this paragraph in my most Sarcastic Internet Snark Voice) Oh, so the guy traveled forward in time to buy that SIG huh, Hamilton? Because the cop character was certainly unable to buy it in 1987 when it never existed. Never mind the fact that in 1987 most every pistol available was steel or allow frame and the Glock only came out five years before in 1982.  And the idea of modularity of frame, slide, and fire controls as used in the 250 was likely a pipe dream to most manufacturers. I call shenanigans on you, Mr. Hamilton! Shame on you for spreading such disinformation. Fail. Fail! FAIL!

OK, that was fun. I enjoy Internet Gun Griping. I hope Anthony Neil Smith stuck some errors in The Cyclist so I can complain when I get that downloaded and read. But, please be aware that my griping is just silliness because Second Life is very good. I expect Cyclist to also be very good because Smith's novels just keep getting better and better.

Anyhoo. Here is the short version: Small time crook Mason is from Chicago and goes to federal prison for the murder of a DEA Agent. Big Time Gangster is also in prison and identifies Mason as a possible employee. Big Time Gangster says he can get Mason out of prison but Mason has to do whatever work Big Time gives him. Mason agrees to the contract and trouble and turmoil ensue.

Long version: Mason is a lifelong crook with a couple life-long crook buddies. Mason is in his mid twenties and working straight jobs when he decides against his better judgement to take on a lucrative truck hijacking job at the docks in Chicago.  The hijacking is busted by the cops and an idiot crook starts shooting. A DEA agent is killed and Mason is pinched for the whole job and sent to Fed prison on the felony murder rule. He leaves behind his wife and young daughter.

Mason spends about four years in Terre Haute's prison when a guard tells him "Mr. Cole wants to talk to you." Mason says, "Huh? Who? I'm not talking to anyone," not realizing who the low profile Cole is. Over the next next year Mason has to meet Cole, is moved into Cole's prison unit, and convinced by Cole to work for Cole. You see Mason has had no word from his wife and daughter - the only correspondence was divorce papers from her attorney. Cole offers Mason a way to get out of prison. Cole agrees to 20 years of 24/7 service and Cole gets an arresting officer to say he lied about everything. Cole's conviction is expunged and he is released.

Mason soon discovers he took a bad deal. He is picked up out of prison by a untalkative and muscled guy and driven to Chicago. Mason is given a cell phone and instructed to answer the phone at any time and immediately do as he is told. Untalkative drops Mason at Mason's new home in the ultra wealthy Lincoln Park area of Chicago and presents him with his perfectly restored '60s Camaro.

Things happen. Mason's first job is the murder of a police officer and things don't get any better. He is freaked about his new job duties. His ex-wife wants nothing to do with him. He hates being under Cole's thumb. He rebels against Untalkative. A cop who busted him five years ago for the truck hijacking is after him again. He has no other family. He makes bad decisions through naivete and angry impulse.

Mason is not an ordinary dude. The character is not an Everyman thrown into trouble, but he is a novice with Big Time Organized Crime and we can identify with his bewilderment at the money, the organization, and the power Cole exerts from his jail cell. Mason makes some impulsive decisions that will only get him in more trouble and he pushes back against Cole in a way that should get Mason a bullet in the neck. The bad guys are believable and Mason has to learn on the job as he is sent out on assassination jobs.

1. Narration is by Ray Porter who also voices a lot of books by Jonathan Maberry. Porter always chews up the novels with lots of emphasis and declarative tones. That style is not always to my liking. I do enjoy that style for Maberry's books.
2.  When trying to remember the narrator's name I did the Googley Googling and "second life of nick mason movie" came up as a suggestion. Nothing seems to be happening with a movie beyond the initial optioning. My cynical side thinks that the novel's use of vintage Mustang, Camaro and GTO cars gives the movie a chance at going into production.
3. Vintage car love.
4. 10mm love.
5. .338 Lapua Magnum love.
6. Chicago love with street level descriptions and driving tours.
7. The second audiobook in the series is on my phone by I decided on a Richard S. Wheeler book instead.
8. The Wheeler book has started out as a standard western with cowboys, ranchers, and range trouble. That's a real change from the other Wheeler novels I have read.
9. Damn. Wheeler went to UW-Madison and grew up in Wauwatosa. I've not yet visited the library in 'Tosa.

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