Abigail stood at the window of the narrow room, dark sky outside, snow still loose on the wind. Frost rimed the glass and everything was damp and cold: the furniture, her clothing, her skin. She saw movement on the drive, a boy, and could no longer bear the thought of children in this stark and bitter place. A coat flapped as the boy ran, and she wondered why he was outside in the storm, to what place he was running. She closed her eyes, and asked God to watch over these children, to keep them safe; and when her eyelids rose, she saw that night had come in its fullness, black and shuttered and alive with wind. She looked for the boy, but he was gone. – from Iron House –
Michael and his brother, Julian, find themselves orphaned and growing up behind the imposing gates of Iron House, an orphanage where the children must often fend for themselves. Decades later, Julian is living with the Vanes, a political family with loads of money and power…while Michael has found his place among criminals in New York City. But Michael wants more in life and thinks he has found it in Elena. When he tries to leave the crime family, his life … and Elena’s… is threatened. Julian, a boy who has grown into a fragile and sensitive man, also seems in danger and Michael takes Elena and flees to North Carolina to protect his brother. When bodies begin turning up on the Vane estate, Michael is left to wonder if his brother has slipped over the edge, or if something more sinister is brewing. Deep secrets must be uncovered to solve the mystery and give Michael (and Julian) a second chance. When Michael returns to Iron House, he discovers not only the ghosts of his past, but the answers to his future.
John Hart’s latest literary thriller is edge of your seat reading. As in his previous books, Hart creates memorable and well-developed characters who drive the plot. The dark family secrets and brutal violence of the mob make for some gruesome reading at times. Michael is clearly the character to watch in this novel about family, love, and the ties that bind.
I’ve read two previous novels by this author: Down River (read my review) which was gritty and atmospheric, and The Last Child (read my review) where Hart explores good vs. evil and supernatural power. Iron House, in my opinion, is the best of the three with strong characters, a twisty plot, and plenty of action.
Readers who love literary fiction but crave the excitement of a good thriller, will find much to love in Iron House. With this effort, Hart has become one of my favorite authors in the genre.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review on my blog.