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Iron House Paperback – March 27, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 409 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“If you crave thrillers that are vividly beautiful, graphic, will make you bleed, try John Hart.” ―Patricia Cornwell

“Lean, hard and absolutely riveting, Iron House is a tour de force. With his best book yet, John Hart has clearly joined the top rank of thriller writers.” ―Vince Flynn

“It isn’t as if Hart’s career needed jump-starting. His first three stand-alone thrillers have been greeted by an ever-growing crescendo of praise, including two Edgar Awards. Definitely not the kind of writer who needs a breakthrough book. And, yet, Iron House lifts Hart to an altogether new level of excellence…. The present-time plot―disaffected Mob hit man on the run, trying to carve a new life without endangering those he loves―makes a superb thriller on its own (steadily building tension, magnificently choreographed fight scenes, including a High Noon–like finale), but it’s what Hart does with the backstory that gives the novel its beyond-genre depth. Like the great Peter Hoeg in Borderliners (1994), Hart uses the familiar story of mistreatment in an orphanage as a way into the inner lives of his characters, and the blind fear, abject confusion, and yearning for love he finds there are both heartbreaking and curiously hopeful, in an almost postapocalyptic way. An unforgettable novel from a master of popular fiction.” ―Booklist, starred review

“This rich, impressive contemporary thriller from two-time Edgar-winner Hart (The Last Child) focuses on two brothers, Michael and Julian, both raised and abused at the Iron House of the title, an orphanage in the mountains of North Carolina.... Hart deftly interweaves a complex family history story with Stevan's intense, bloody quest for vengeance.... [The book's] powerful themes and its beautiful prose will delight Hart's fans--and should earn him many new ones.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A magnificent creation...Huck Finn channeled through Lord of the Flies.” ―THE WASHINGTON POST on The Last Child

“A rare accomplishment--a compelling, fast-paced thriller written with a masterful, literary touch.” ―Jeffery Deaver on The Last Child

“If you haven't read John Hart...you ought to.” ―NEW YORK DAILY NEWS on The Last Child

“This generation's Pat Conroy.” ―THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL on The Last Child

“Settles the question of whether thrillers and mysteries can also be literature.” ―PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review) on Down River

“There are few books published that can legitimately be called a 'must-read,' but this is one of them.” ―CHICAGO SUN-TIMES on Down River

“A beautifully constructed story of personal redemption, family secrets, and murder--a small-town epic....” ―BOOKLIST on Down River

“Grisham-style intrigue and Turow-style brooding.” ―THE NEW YORK TIMES on King of Lies

“A top-notch debut, Hart's prose is like Raymond Chandler's, angular and hard.” ―ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY (Grade A) on King of Lies

“[An] ambitious debut thriller...a gripping performance.” ―PEOPLE on King of Lies

About the Author

John Hart is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, including The King of Lies, Down River and The Last Child. The only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels, John has also won the Barry Award and England's Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of the year. His books have been translated into twenty-nine languages and can be found in over fifty countries. A former criminal defense attorney, John has also worked as a banker, stockbroker, and apprentice helicopter mechanic. A husband and father of two, he spends his time in North Carolina and Virginia.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781250007018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250007018
  • ASIN: 1250007011
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (409 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By michael a. draper VINE VOICE on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Have you ever considered how difficult it is to get out of an impossible situation and change the future?

Michael and his brother, Julian, were raised in a home for boys. Iron House provided shelter and discipline. Julian was constantly abused and bullied by the other boys. Michael wanted to protect his brother and was forced to fight for both of them. As a result, he became a ferocious combatant. When Julian finally struck back at his main tormentor, Michael took the blame.

Julian was adopted and Michael left the home and lived on the streets, constantly having to defend himself. At age fifteen, he was attacked by a group of boys in Spanish Harlem. He fought courageously and Otto Kaitlin, a crime boss, witnessed the fight and rescued Michael. Otto saw a similarity to himself as a youngster. Michael became his protege and later, his main enforcer. Otto's own son, Steven, continued his education but didn't have Michael's fighting spirit.

Years later, Michael meets Elena and falls in love. The author describes the setting vividly and when she becomes pregnant, Michael realizes that he wants to leave the life of crime to have a normal existence. He has loved three people, his brother Julian, Otto, and now Elena. His love of these people becomes the motivating force in his life.

Michael's final scene with Otto shows his compassion in a way that is beautifully written and memorable.

John Hart is one of the finest mystery writers that we have and is a mulitple Edgar Award winner. He portrays the enviable ability to describe his central characters with a view of life which make them interesting and sympathetic. Michael leads the way and shows admirable qualities of the love he has for his family.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the things I love about John Hart is the depth of his writing. Reading a John Hart book is like having the most incredible dinner with ALL the trimmings. His characters are deep, often flawed but you become totally involved with them. In this particular story, he does get harsh and sometimes, well maybe often, bloody. But it does not stop you from wanting to know where all the little jigsaw pieces are going to fit. Every time you think you know where he is headed, he slips onto a new path. Its a love story of many facets. It is also a brutal story of horrible beginnings with people who, at the end, will still be damaged goods. They will learn to be the best they can with all that has happened to them. There is mystery. Yep, lots of it. It will keep you on your toes worrying about how this can turn out ok. But it basically does.
Each John Hart story is unique in its subject but very much the same in the good prose and depth. This is the fourth I have read and I think the most raw one. I suggest you pick up any one of his books. May I say, start with "Down River" or "The Last Child" and then graduate to "Iron House". You should be impressed . No, take that back, you WILL be impressed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I read the product description for "Iron House" on Amazon I thought it seemed a little clichéd, the mob enforcer who finds love and seeks to break out of his old life, but can't because the mob won't let him go. He finds himself on the run with the woman he loves, who, of course, has no idea who he really is because he has been lying to her ever since he met her. I decided to give it a shot for two reasons; the first is the excellent reputation of John Hart. The second is the creepy, Southern Gothic atmosphere it looked like the book would deliver.

Well, the book does deliver. "Iron House" is consistently interesting, smoothly written, and has a variety of, for the most part, well-drawn characters . I did think the book would center more on the relationship between the two brothers, Julian and Michael, so I was a bit disappointed that Julian himself is missing for much of the book.

There were elements of this book I really enjoyed, and it always held my interest. However, and I know my opinion is in the minority here, I can only give it three stars. One of the main reasons is for the scenes where the torture inflicted on characters is graphically detailed. Yes, I expected darkness in this book, but how the author chooses to depict it makes a big difference to the reader. For me, it went too far. In the end, it all seemed excessive; too many deaths and too much craziness. I also got tired of reading about the obscene amount of money some of the characters had at their disposal. I would like to have had some hint that Michael was at least going to try to do some good with the money, especially since it was basically ill-gotten gains. I also thought the last two chapters should have been left out of the book.
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Format: Audio CD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Trees thrashed in the storm, their trunks hard and black and rough as stone, their limbs bent beneath the weight of snow. It was dark out, night. Between the trunks, a boy ran and fell and ran again. Snow melted against the heat of his body, soaked his clothing, then froze solid. His world was black and white, except where it was red.

On his hands and under his nails.

Frozen to the blade of a knife no child should own.

For one instant the clouds tore, then darkness came complete and an iron trunk bloodied the boy's nose as he struck a tree and fell again. He pulled himself up and ran through snow that piled to his knees, his waist. Branches caught his hair, tore skin. Light speared out far behind, and the sound of pursuit welled like breath in the forest's throat."

Well, I found that the most interesting part of the book. A ten-year-old boy runs into a snowstorm in the remote North Carolina mountains , with nothing but the clothes on his back, and survives.

Michael has a successful "whack em and stack em " career working for his N.Y. mobster foster father but when he finds true, pure love he wants to take his 80 million dollars and leave the "family". As we all know ,that isn't done. They have to get rid of his pregnant girlfriend and the brother he hasn't seen since he ran away from the orphanage 23 years before. So the chase begins. Bodies pile up along the way. There is the usual extracting-of-body-parts torture, $1,000 tips right and left and revealing of childhood family secrets.
Spoiler: All ends well. Big whoop there.

I had a little trouble getting past the flowery prose: "Red fingers of dawn clawed red from the sky"...."She wanted to run and scream and carve giant chunks from her heart."...Whuh?

Maybe I read too much mystery/thriller stuff. I just didn't find anything new or interesting in the story. Alright crucify me, other reviewers. I deserve it.
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