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Iron House    by John Hart order for
Iron House
by John Hart
Order:  USA  Can
Macmillan Audio, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

John Hart's Iron House is a potent thriller, lyrically written. I listened to the audiobook (15 hours, 12 CDs, brilliantly narrated by Scott Sowers) while driving. This is something I would now advise against as the story was so spellbinding - and often very harrowing - that it distracted me from the road ahead of me.

It opens as a child (young Michael) flees the terrible Iron Mountain Home for Boys in a snowstorm, pursued by men and dogs. Why? We're left to wonder for some time, but soon learn that the orphanage was one in which bullies were left free to terrorize the younger children and that Michael's smaller, vulnerable brother Julian was systematically preyed upon.

We fast forward to find an adult Michael in New York where, after surviving on the streets he was taken in by a powerful crime boss, Otto Kaitlin. The latter became a father figure to him and taught Michael to be his best enforcer, though he also kept Michael's identity a deep secret.

Unfortunately Otto is dying. After meeting the lovely Elena (who now carries his child), Michael decided to leave the organization and Otto allowed it. But when he dies, others (in particular his jealous son Stevan and the vicious psychopath who trained Michael) have made it clear they will come after Michael and those he loves.

And they do so, with a bang. Many innocent people die and Michael and a deeply shocked Elena (who knew nothing of his past) end up on the run. Believing that his brother Julian is also at risk, Michael goes to the North Carolina mansion where Julian (who was adopted by a wealthy Senator and his wife) lives. But something bad that recently happened there has unraveled the fragile Julian. Determined to help him, Michael loses Elena, who flees into captivity and horror.

Michael is determined to protect those he loves, as is Julian's mother. They fight for survival and, along the way, Michael untangles the dark secrets of his and Julian's past as well as the puzzle of several dead bodies found on the Senator's estate. Iron House is one of the year's best thrillers, not to be missed!

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