EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has preemptively acquired The Second Life Of Nick Mason, a potential franchise based on the first in a series of books by Steve Hamilton. This comes on the heels of a new four-book deal Hamilton signed with Putnam, ending his 17-year relationship with St. Martin’s Press. Putnam will publish the novel next May.

Hamilton is the two-time Edgar-winning author of The Lock Artist and the Alex McKnight series that spans 10 books. Nina Jacobson, who produced The Hunger Games franchise for Lionsgate, is producing through her Color Force banner with Shane Salerno and his Story Factory banner. It is the first major deal made by Bobby Cohen since he joined as Lionsgate co-president, motion picture production. Lionsgate took it off the table before others had a chance to bid.

The novel is in the vein of Taken and The Equalizer, focusing on career criminal Nick Mason. He is released from prison after serving only five years of a 25-year sentence. He promptly moves into a tony condo on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, living with a beautiful roommate and driving a new car. The circumstances behind Mason’s release soon become clear: He made a deal with an infamous Chicago crime lord, Darius Cole, who lived on the same cell block as Mason and used his clout to free Mason, only if the ex-con will pick up the crime lord’s cell phone call and execute everything asked of him, from robbery to murder to fixing any problem, no questions asked. Mason made this Faustian bargain so he could re-connect with his estranged daughter. Hounded by the cop who put him away in the first place, Mason must figure out how to get out from under.

Salerno, who most recently co-wrote an Avatar sequel with James Cameron, serves as Hamilton’s literary agent and brokered this deal and his new publishing deal through Story Factory, along with CAA.