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Bleeding Hearts: A Novel Hardcover – November 15, 2006

3.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published in the U.K. in 1994 under the pseudonym Jack Harvey, this routine thriller from Edgar-winner Rankin tells the story of Michael Weston, a fastidious British assassin whose life gets complicated when Hoffer, an American PI, starts to close in on him. The novel opens with Weston's carefully choreographed hit on London TV journalist Eleanor Ricks, but Hoffer is chasing Weston for another assassination, in which the antihero mistakenly shot a young girl. The plot takes a convoluted journey to the United States, to a weapons dealer in Texas and on to a quasireligious cult near Seattle. The nonstop action, copious violence and arcane details about weaponry and forensics will please thriller junkies, but fans of Rankin's masterful John Rebus series (Fleshmarket Alley, etc.) may not find this pre-Rebus book to their taste. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Like Witch Hunt (2004) and Blood Hunt (2006), the latest Rankin is not an installment of his stellar Inspector Rebus series but a first U.S. edition of a stand-alone originally published in the U.K. under the name Jack Harvey (in this case, in 1994). The hero here is Michael Weston, a highly paid assassin whose specialty is the long-distance shot, always through the heart. He's dubbed the "Demolition Man" because he always sets off a diversionary explosion nearby. At the book's start, he makes a kill but barely escapes the police: he has been set up. But by whom? First he needs to find out who hired him. His journey takes him north to Yorkshire, then to the U.S. He's accompanied by love-interest Bel, daughter of his armorer, and dogged by Leo Hoffer, a publicity-hungry PI intent on bagging the "D-Man"--and there's a mysterious U.S. government agent, too. Though this is more standard thriller fare than the Rebus series, it's smart and inventive. Weston's a hemophiliac, for example, and he is no action hero--he is decidedly uncomfortable with death. And a nice twist at the end adds a surprising piece of political relevance. Bleeding Hearts loses a bit of its sparkle once the stalking is over and the fighting starts, but it's still plenty good. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (November 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316009121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316009126
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,984,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Whether or not Ian Rankin's John Rebus police procedurals or his stand-alone works are seen as "literary" is totally irrelevant to the elements that make all of them exciting, entertaining, often funny, well plotted and a cut above the ordinary. His ironic twists accelerate the pace and keep readers breathlessly carried along by the action. BLEEDING HEARTS is the newest thriller to appear in the United States --- it was published in England in 1994 under the pseudonym Jack Harvey. In it, we follow the trajectories of the lives of two men: an assassin of international repute, and a former NYPD cop now turned private eye who has vowed to track down the infamous killer and execute him.

The story opens in a hotel bar in England where me meet the killer, Michael Weston, having a drink with a passing acquaintance. In his first-person narration he tells readers that his mark has only three more hours to live, while opining to his companion: "You know what it's like these days --- only the toughest are making it. No room for bleeding hearts though of course in my line of work bleeding hearts are the business."

Today his assignment is to shoot a woman who will be leaving a particular hotel, at a particular time, wearing a particular dress patterned in yellow and blue. He has no idea who she is and doesn't really care. Later, as the police show up at almost the precise second he pulls the trigger, he can't believe what has just transpired. How could they be here so quickly? he wonders. His ad-hoc plan to leave the scene is to call 999 and ask for an ambulance because, he tells them, he's "a severe hemophiliac" who has been involved in a terrible accident and his head is bleeding.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the first American release for an early novel by British writer Ian Rankin, author of the award-winning "John Rebus" series of mysteries. Michael West is an assassin and when he is double crossed after murdering a journalist, he must go on the run with assistance from the daughter of an arms dealer to find out who set him up. He is chased by a drug-addled American private eye who will stop at nothing to take him down. Ranking throws in the kitchen sink on this one: cops, crooks, spies and cults all take part in the narrative with plenty of shoot 'em up action along the way. The ending is a little contrived, but the story works for the most part, and shows how talented a writer Rankin was even at this early stage.
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Format: Paperback
This is what used to be called a "rattling good yarn".It's a tale of a hired assassin, a crack-shot sniper, who travels the world, killing people for payment...a cold-blooded murderer who also happens to be a haemophiliac. Strangely enough, you find yourself empathising with this man as the story proceeds, which it does at a cracking pace. Michael Weston is hired by an unknown client to shoot a TV news journalist. He successsfully carries out his assignment but things start to go awry and he realises that he is being pursued by an old adversary, Leo Hohher, a former NY cop, now a private investigator. Michael visits Max Harrison, an old friend living deep in the country, to buy guns and ammunition and meets his daughter Bel- gorgeous and a crack shot. While Michael and Bel are off on an errand, unknown criminals enter the house and behead Max, leaving the body to be found by Bel and Michael. The chase takes them to the US where they connect with a weird and suspect religious cult whose leader has unidentifiable sources of income. Even though the hero of Bleeding Hearts is a thoroughly amoral character, one can't help but hope that he comes good in the end and survives the shoot-outs.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am so glad this wasn't the first Ian Rankin book I read. Otherwise, it would have been the last, and I never would have discovered his terrific Inspector Rebus stories. Rankin has the advantage on me with his Rebus novels because I don't know anything about Scotland, so whatever he says about that, I can believe. But, while reading Bleeding Hearts (which I chose not to finish), I kept thinking to myself, 'this guy doesn't know what he's talking about.' The American private eye somehow manages to get himself on British TV as a famous American private eye. Does that ever happen? Know any famous private eyes? And he says things to people like, 'I'm an American, and where I come from, we show hospitality to strangers.' Really? And he's from New York! I do admire Rankin's efforts to get America and Americans right, and appreciate how difficult that might be for someone from Scotland, but he fails time and again, leading me to finally put the book aside. It is a failed effort. That said, the Rebus mysteries are great.
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Format: Hardcover
It took me a long time to finish this book. When I thought about reading it, I found I thought the story was interesting and I wanted to know what would happen, but it just took effort to want to read it. I couldn't figure out why.

That was until about halfway through the book and I realized I didn't like any of the characters and couldn't care less about what happened to them. That's what was holding me back.

Bel was whiny, passive aggressive and naive to the point of my just wanting her killed off. Overall, I got the impression that Rankin could never make up his mind who she was supposed to be.

Weston, the infamous D-Man, was a milquetoast. Without a sniper rifle, he came across as bumbling and weak. The great assissin barely knew how to use a pistol. That wasn't so bad. It could have been endearing under the right circumstances. But added to the fact that he was incapable of standing up to Bel and that she basically led him around by his nose, he was character I couldn't believe in. I would say that he was "whipped" if he hadn't been so apathetic about their relationship. He was pretty much apatehtic about everything. Even his interest in finding out who set him up came across as forced for the sake of the plot.

Finally, there was Leo Hoffer, who took being the obnoxious New Yorker/American to new heights. Rankin's depiction of Hoffer as such was so over the top it seemed like parody. All of the Americans, except possibly Clancy, were caricatures. Hoffer had some "cute" quirks, but overall he was yet another character I felt should be killed off. And given his lack of use in the latter half of a novel, and looking back on it, contrived use in the earlier half, he probably could have been left out of the novel altogether.
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