John Hart has written four books.  He is the only author in history to win the best novel Edgar Award for consecutive novels.  He is, in my opinion, and apparently others, a great writer.  While his books have all been New York Times Bestsellers, I was not familiar with him until this past summer.  I was in a small bookstore in Hendersonville, NC looking at their Regional Authors section and picked up Hart’s book, “The Last Child”.  John Hart lives in North Carolina.  As a native North Carolinian, and as a South Carolinian all my adult life, I am always interested in reading works by Carolinians.  “The Last Child” sounded good, so I bought it and was immediately caught up in it.  It was certainly a page turner!  I ended up reading it over my Fourth of July vacation week, and I was enjoying it so strongly that I know my mother-in-law, who was with us for part of our vacation, read it, and a neighbor friend in our family’s vacation community read it too.

So, after finishing “The Last Child” I was excited to learn that John Hart’s newest book, “Iron House” was being released in mid-July.  I bought it fairly soon after it was released but it took me a little while to getting around to reading it.  But once I started it, it was hard to put down.  The main character, Michael, is deeply involved in the organized crime scene in New York.  But, having fallen in love, and seeing that he can never have a normal life if he doesn’t change his lifestyle, he decides to leave the world of organized crime.  But that is easier said than done.  Michael does make an escape of sorts with his lover, Elena, who really has no idea that Michael is involved in the world of crime.  But she quickly finds out.

Michael and Elena make a journey from New York to North Carolina to try to track down Michael’s brother, who was adopted as a child by a U.S. Senator from North Carolina and his wife.  The story becomes complex as Michael makes the connection with his brother Julian, and gets involved with a series of murders that have taken place on the huge estate of Senator Vane and his wife, Abigail.  Not only are they trying to sort through the crimes that have taken place on the Estate, which is set in Chatham County in the Piedmont of North Carolina, but Michael is also being hunted down by members of the N.Y. crime group he has tried to escape.

The story has twists and turns followed by more twists and turns.  Hart does a good job of developing the book’s characters and yet hits with you surprise after surprise involving the characters, too.  The book is definitely suspenseful, and it can definitely be called a thriller.  But, it is also very graphically violent.  People are killed right and left, and several of the murders are very explicitly described.  There are scenes of torture that are almost difficult to read they are so vivid.  So, if do not like graphically written violence, the book would not be for you.  It was more graphic than most books I have read, but I did find it to be a good read.  Another page turner from John Hart.  I did not enjoy it as much as his book, “The Last Child“, but it was well written.  I will read more of John Hart’s writings.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being great, columbiabookseller gives “Iron House” a 4.

Iron House

John Hart

Thomas Dunne Books (An Imprint of St. Martin’s Press)

ISBN 978-0-312-38034-2

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