Nine months after splitting with his longtime publisher, St. Martin’s Press, in a public dispute over marketing plans, two-time Edgar Award winner Steve Hamilton returns with a new publisher, a new anti-hero and a movie deal with Lionsgate for the new book. “The Second Life of Nick Mason” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) introduces readers to a small-time career criminal who got sucked into a big score that went bad, resulting in the shooting death of a federal officer. When Nick gets arrested and refuses to roll on the rest of his crew, he’s sentenced to 25 years in prison. But he serves only five years before he’s suddenly released and moves into an elegant lakefront Chicago condo with a hot new car in the garage. For this good fortune, Nick is indebted to Darius Cole, a notorious crime lord who rules the prison. In return, Nick is required, under penalty of death, to do whatever Cole asks, including committing both robbery and murder. While he schemes to get out from under Cole’s thumb, Nick earns the enmity of a squad of crooked Chicago cops, is hunted by an honest detective eager to send him back to prison and struggles to rebuild a relationship with his young daughter and an ex-wife who wants nothing to do with him. The result is a suspenseful, fast-paced crime novel with the same heart, well-drawn characters and muscular prose that fans of his popular Alex McKnight series and his fine stand-alone novels such as “The Lock Artist” have come to expect. Hamilton’s new deal with Putnam calls for two Nick Mason novels and two McKnight tales as well, so the second life of Steve Hamilton is off to a smashing start.