The latest from two-time Edgar Award winner John Hart (The King of Lies, Down River) is a genre-defying, literary tour-de-force entitled Iron House. This one has it all, and it weaves between the lines of mystery and thriller a good dose of drama. At the center of it all are two brothers: Michael and his younger brother, Julian, who both grew up at the Iron Mountain Home for Boys in North Carolina.
The story opens with an intense scene: the vivid description of a boy running in the snow with bloodied hands. It then flashes forward to Michael in New York City with his elegant and beautiful girlfriend, Elena; she knows nothing of Michael’s past. But nothing is elegant about Michael. He is filled with lies and danger, a gangster - a killer for organized crime. The danger contained within him quickly comes to roost in an explosive manner.
The story flashes back twenty-three years. Michael’s younger brother, Julian, a frail nine-year-old, is being chased down by a group of boys from Iron House. The saying “Boys will be boys” is apropos as the rougher older boys bully the poor boy. Julian screams for his older brother to save the day, but his cries go unanswered, and Julian gets stomped and pummeled by the group of five. When the boys are done kicking and punching, Julian finds something dangerous in the snow. Eventually, when Michael does find Julian, he cleans him up and forces Julian to put the blame on him.
The story continues on with more twists and plot turns, using the device of flashback to fill in backstory, develop characters, and create a bond between the reader/listener and the characters. This is an excellent story with the appropriate amount of blood, violence, and profanity to tell such a story. There is enough going on to make those who like action-packed thrillers happy, but there is also a powerful message on the importance of family: those bonds that tie people together forever. Iron House is an incredible mix of drama, mystery, and thrills that is vividly described, beautifully crafted, and excellently told.
The audiobook is a twelve-disc set that runs for fifteen hours. Without out a shadow of a doubt, this is the perfect audio book for a long road trip or for an international flight. It will fill that downtime with lots and lots of entertainment. Audio quality is a ten out of ten. The production value is very high; there are no bad overdubs or any parts where the audio dips in volume. Narrator Scott Sowers does a solid job with the material, and included with the story is a bonus interview with the author. All in all, Iron House is a fantastic audiobook.