EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has set Richard Wenk to adapt The Second Life Of Nick Mason, the first title in a new novel series by Steve Hamilton. Wenk scripted the Sony hit The Equalizer and co-wrote the upcoming Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and Magnificent Seven. He most recently scripted The Equalizer 2. Nina Jacobson, Shane Salerno and Brad Simpson are producing.

Wenk seems a perfect fit here; back when Deadline revealed the Lionsgate book deal last summer, the novel was described as being in the vein of Taken and The Equalizer. That deal came on the heels of the two-time Edgar Award-winning The Lock Artist author signing a new four-book deal with Putnam, ending his 17-year relationship with St. Martin’s Press. The book comes out in May and has strong advance buzz with praise from Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Don Winslow. It put The Hunger Games producer Jacobson and her Color Force back in business with Lionsgate in a team-up with Salerno’s Story Factory banner, in the first deal made by Bobby Cohen after he joined as Lionsgate co-president, motion picture production.

Nick Mason is a career criminal who 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.

Wenk is repped by Gersh, The Arlook Group and Schreck, Rose.