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4.2 out of 5 stars40
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 14 May 2004
This is another of Susan Howatch's gripping sagas which carrys you along with it. Many of the characters are familiar having featured in her other books about "St. Benets" in London. Of all her books though I found this was the most uncomfortable to read as the subject matter was unpleasant. This made no difference to the fact that it caught you up and carried you along with it from the very first chapter. Although it is a "stand alone" book the reader would find reading the previous one - High Flyer - very useful as it would explain the background to events.
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on 11 September 2004
Although it took a little while to get into this book it was worth it in the end. Once established the characters took over and moved the story along apace whilst the author cleverly continued to develop them as individuals. The book deals with aspects of life with which it is not always easy to empathise. Never the less it is set in real life and time and you never learn about anything by ignoring it. This was one of the most rewarding books that i have read for a long time, well written, entertaining and thought provoking. I would recommend it to anyone.
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on 25 April 2003
This, the third book in this wonderful writer's series about the healing ministry of St Benets, City of London, is compulsively readable and much darker than anything she has penned before, but not completely satisfying. It offers glimpses of familiar characters from the past for avid Susan Howatch readers in a fascinating but frustratingly elliptical way. It is gripping, not to say terrifying. I admire the author for the amount of research and empathy into the life of a high class call boy, difficult as much of it is to stomach. Despite this, for me it is the least successful of this series. Old favourites tend to be neglected and the new characters are less interesting- especially the reformed Carta. Some of the religious thinking ascribed to the hero is a little overfamilar and mawkishly expressed.
But I still can't wait for the next one!
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on 13 January 2004
My summary says it all really. As in her previous post-conversion bestsellers, she bases it all on a first person character with serious problems, usually of the mental or spiritual sort, but with plenty of hair-raising physical and supernatural danger thrown in. Then we see them saved in some way and cheer them on to some kind of potentially happy ending. This time its a high class rent boy mixed up with the seriously nasty people we met in The High Flyer.
It's about the victory of the human spirit, sort of. For her this is symbolised by ball room dancing, of all things. Two immaculately dressed prostitutes doing a John Travolta type solo at the Savoy to applause. All highly improbable and a creaky sort of plot and cliches abound, but hey, who cares? It's so battily improbable its must be based on real events. I couldn't put it down. She lays a spell on you. She has the gift.
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on 22 April 2003
. As a fan of the Starbridge and St Benets novels I was both looking forward to the latest book , and sceptical that she could produce yet another high quality story. The heartbreaker is an excellent tale packed with good measures of pace , intrigue, scandal and love. Familiar characters are mixed with racy new ones.( I particularly liked 'the bloke'). I read it in two sittings and could hardly tear myself away. If you liked her previous books you will love this , but be aware that some of the content is harder and nastier than previous novels.
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on 22 June 2007
Susan Howatch is a master at storytelling, but somehow her recent books are not up to par. Her blend of theology and Jungian analysis was really amazing in the Starbridge series and she has tried to do it again in the St. Benet trilogy, but it is not as deep and meaningful as it used to be. Maybe modern day stories is not her forte. Maybe speaking through clergymen gave her more freedom to express herself and her views. Who knows? Where is the Nicholas Darrow of Mystical Paths? It's as if he's another person entirely. In fact, these books seem to have been written by another person entirely, a Susan Howatch wannabe. I gave the book three stars, only because it was written by her and, to be honest, there are some rare glimpses of her old self in it. Is that enough? I sincerely doubt it. If you are new to the Susan Howatch experience, you might actually enjoy this book, but if you want to find out what she is really all about, you should get the Starbridge series or The Wheel Of Fortune, the last book from her saga period. And then you will be able to witness the Howatch magic.
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on 16 September 2003
At a time when the Church is in turmoil over whether or not gays can be part of the Christian Church, Susan Howatch comes along with a book that grasps the nettle firmly. A compellingly good read, as with all her books she researches her subject thoroughly and one feels her judgement can be trusted, because she is totally fair to all sides of the debate. I particularly admire the way she turns an obnoxious character into an endearing hero - so subtlely, that you have to re-read to find the pointer to where you started changing your mind! I hope the gay community think she has treated them fairly, and softened the hearts of those who dig their heels in and refuse to see another point of view. But apart from all the heavy stuff, which is there to those who want it, another excellent Susan Howatch novel.
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on 12 April 2003
To all Howatch Fans this book has been a long time coming.
It re-introduces the old characters from the St Benets books, Nicholas, Alice, Lewis ,Carter and focuses on the last of these and a rather unlikely hero: Gavin is a male prostitute (tho he prefrs to call himself a 'leisure worker') whos life is changed following his encounters with Carta.
I found the alternating narration facsinating (Carta relates one Chapter, Gavin the next) and the profound insights into a damaged soul deeply moving.
Without giving too much away the book focuses on Gavins redemption and chance to build a new life.
On the down side this book lacks the fast pace of most of Howatches early novels, and Gavin comes over as a rather hard unsympatheic character at the beginning.
Al in all a MUST for all Howtch fans - and a rather satisfying conclusion
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on 8 May 2003
When I first picked up Heartbreaker, I wondered how the author was going to be able to pull off the premise of a straight hustler for gay sex. Not only does Howatch handle the matter with elegance and grace, she also keeps you on the edge of your seat with an excellent thriller. Sex, murder and money all combine to make this a thiller of a higher calibre. Howatch treats her characters, Gavin and Carta, with respect; you may not like the Gavin in the beginning, but once you get to 'know' him, you see someone you too can respect.
Susan Howatch has written a book of love and redemption, a book that lets you know that you are never alone, a much bigger force is at work in the universe.
I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to escape into a great book.
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on 6 May 2003
Superb! I have long been a fan of Susan Howatch, especially the Starbridge and the subsequent St. Benets novels. However, when I first read the synopsis for "The Heartbreaker" I wasn't too optimistic. Carter Graham, the "high flyer" of the previous novel, was never one of my favourites.
But this latest episode in the St Benet story had me on the edge of my seat - I read it in a single weekend and then wanted to start all over again. The character of Gavin Blake seems at first to be a most unlikeable and sleazy loser, but as the novel progresses and you get to know him and his circumstances better, he becomes a hero you care about and really want to cheer on. I would have liked a bit more involvement from Alice, but maybe there is another story to come in the future?
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