Monday, June 4, 2018

Another Audio: "Exit Strategy" by Steve Hamilton

Another Audio: Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton, 2017, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.

Sequel to The Second Life of Nick Mason. Mason is still under the thumb of Big Bad Crime Boss Cole. Mason is still killing for Cole. Mason is still keeping his real life secret and dating a pet store owner (manager?). Mason still have to do whatever he is told or his ex-wife and daughter will be tortured and murdered.

Hamilton tells another fine story with Mason. Mason is still impulsive and quick to anger. He tamps down his frustration and rage and does the assignments he gets from Cole's man in Chicago, Quintero.  Mason is injured when murdering a protected witness housed in a fictionalized Water Tower Place in Chicago. Mason, for reasons I do not recall, goes to the girlfriend's place. Bad idea. No one can know Mason is on Cole's payroll as a killer.

Mason barely stops Quintero from killing girlfriend and strikes a deal of sorts with Quintero. Things move on and Mason murders as the police, U.S. Marshalls, and the U.S. Attorney work to protect witnesses for Cole's upcoming retrial. Cole has been busy bribing and threatening his many police and prosecutor 'pals' to change statements, make up new statements, and generally destroy the public's case against Cole.

Mason is in an impossible position. We follow him around as the murder assignments become progressively more difficult and dangerous. As he plans to try and get under from Cole by surveilling Cole's lackeys and develops a love affair with Cole's other kept employee, Diana.

I was split between wishing the (mostly) likable Mason succeeds in his murders and escape plans, and hoping Mason goes back to prison or is killed. Cole is thoroughly despicable and killing anyone in his way or anyone connected to someone in his way.

I like how Hamilton advances the story. He is not rehashing the plot of Second Life. We don't learn a whole lot more about Mason but do get new characters, backgrounds of existing characters, greater threats and challenges for Mason to overcome, so on, so forth.

1. Narrator Ray Porter does not chew up the words like last time. Good.
2. Gratuitous Chicago geography.
3. Gratuitous liberties with reality. The idea of Mason killing these people and getting away is absurd.
4. Characters killed off. Good, makes for neat twists and really alters the story's direction.
5. Blood and gore.
6. A couple characters and plot lines are immediately disappeared or changed. Those characters and actions are not forgotten, Hamilton just swerves Mason into a different direction. ZHamilton just gives Mason more trouble to deal with.
7. Extremely gratuitous Goose Island beer.

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