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Breakheart Hill

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  578 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
From the author hailed as "an important talent, a storytelling writer of poetic narrative power" ( "Los Angeles Times Book Review" ) comes a dazzling novel of psychological suspense. "This is the darkest story I've ever heard." With these haunting words, Thomas H. Cook begins a tale of love and its aftermath, of a town sent reeling from a moment of passionate betrayal. At ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 1996 by Crimeline (first published June 1st 1995)
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Michael Clarke
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Community Reviews

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Beth Crawford
Jul 30, 2013 Beth Crawford rated it liked it
Well, I definitely liked the last few pages. What I didn't like was the plodding, repetitive first 18 chapters. Because I'm stubborn, I kept reading because others liked the book and I didn't want to let it get the best of me! Some of the writing was good, but some of the characters and their actions and thoughts did not not ring true to me for 16 and 17 year olds. In chapter 17 a few of the characters attend a children's play and the author writes, "The play was a modern contrivance, fractured ...more
Jan 07, 2009 Sidney rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-book
This is a tale of unrequited love and the ripple effect on a small, Southern community after a moment of passionate betrayal. Thomas H. Cook is a master of suspenseful, dark and cerebral crime fiction. Shocking final pages!
Feb 02, 2011 Christie rated it really liked it
"You’ll think you know who (and maybe you do) and you’ll think you know why (and I suppose it’s possible); but trust me, you won’t have guessed everything. Breakheart Hill is one of the best written and most marvelously crafted books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s dark and it’s sad and it’s very, very good. Read it.” – Mystery News

I picked up Thomas H. Cook’s 1995 novel Breakheart Hill at the second hand store. On the cover was the tagline “a mesmerizing tale of love and betrayal” and I th
Absolutely breath-taking.
A wonderful lyrical novel of depth, that delicately sketches beauty and the darkest of human pain. The prose is intoxicating and the plot has you holding your breathe. It tears you up to read it and it left me gasping at the end.
This is literary crime fiction of such power that it deserves its own sub genre. One of the most profound and moving books I've ever read in any genre.
Just beautiful.
Gotta go now and buy EVERYTHING Cook's ever written...10/10.

Jun 12, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Wowww, this was SO good! I could hardly put it down, and finished it in two nights time. Definitely my favorite by Thomas H Cook that I've read thus far. Cook weaves a clever mystery, the setting is rich, and the characters are full of depth and intrigue. This all leads up to a shocking climax that I never saw coming. Just fantastic. Loved it!
Max Read
Jul 14, 2014 Max Read rated it it was amazing
“A fascinating story of unrequited love, bigotry, tragedy and mystery”

“Breakheart Hill” was written by the master story teller, Thomas H. Cook. The novel is fictional literature in the mystery/love story genre. Mr. Cook has written a significant number of books, short stories and novels and has been nominated or won several literary prizes for his work. One of Cook’s most recent novels that have been reviewed at Amazon is “The Quest for Anna Klein”.

“Breakheart Hill” is narrated in the first per
Jeffrey Chase
Jun 07, 2014 Jeffrey Chase rated it it was amazing
5 stars, definitely! I loved this book. Ben Wade is a high school kid, in love with the new girl, Kelli Troy. She is beautiful and mysterious, a smart girl, and someone Ben sees marrying later in life. And so, during the school year, he does what he can to win her favor and her heart. But, does her heart belong to another? Ben needs to know, and his strongest desire is to be the man she approves of and loves in kind.
It is set in the small town of Choctaw, during the 1960s, in a southern state,
Kathleen Hagen
Breakheart Hill, by Thomas H. Cook, A-plus. Narrated by George Guidall, produced by Recorded Books, downloaded from

Ben grows up in a small southern town in the early 1960’s. He feels confined as a teenager and can’t wait to leave the town. Then a new girl comes to town, Kelly. She and Ben co-edit the highschool paper. We see the ins and outs of highschool life for a whole year. Then Kelly is killed by a blow to her head. The sheriff believes that Ben knows more than he’s willing to
Aug 19, 2013 Jeanette rated it liked it
After reading several of his much later works, I have come back now to read his earliest.

Although highly gifted in his expression and especially within his core revelations of teen-age male souls, all their perceptions and all their self-identity and angsts- he did get BETTER with the years and practice. FOR SURE.

Because I totally agree with another poster that this beginning and middle were plodding and redundant to a point of near stagnation.

But a good base story and town feel here, and his ex
L.L. Thrasher
Oct 17, 2012 L.L. Thrasher rated it it was amazing
I first read Breakheart Hill several years ago. I was a few chapters into when I took it with me to the hospital where my daughter was having surgery. I finished the first half in the waiting room and I finished the rest of it the next day. Two days later I read it again. I don't know how many times I've read it since, but when I received a Kindle Touch last Christmas the first thing I did was download Breakheart Hill.
May 10, 2013 Terry rated it really liked it
I think I was one of the few who read this book and was genuinely confused as to what happened at the end. I still find myself searching for a spoiler or an explanation, so if anyone is willing to provide, please let me know! Other than this, I do enjoy Cook's writing style and character development and will definitely read another novel from this author.
MK Wachter
Jul 31, 2014 MK Wachter rated it it was amazing
After thoroughly enjoying reading my first Thomas H. Cook book (Sandrine's Case) a few weeks ago, I was drawn to try one of his earlier works. I was not disappointed! Cook is quickly becoming one of my favorite "go-to" authors. I find him an amazing storyteller. Breakheart Hill will draw you in from the first sentence and if you're like me, you will have a hard time putting it down at night! This particular book does a beautiful job of describing small town life in the 1960's and the relationshi ...more
David B
Apr 23, 2014 David B rated it it was amazing
Town doctor Ben Wade narrates the sad history of Kelly Troy, a bright, intelligent girl who moves into a small Southern community, both shocking it with her outspoken views on segregation and charming it with her natural vivacity before she is tragically attacked on top of Breakheart Hill. Ben falls deeply in love with her, and author Thomas H. Cook is very good at depicting the black mood he falls into when his love is not returned. The narrative moves back and forth in time, skillfully manipul ...more
Nov 19, 2014 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago but every now and then it catches my eye on the book shelf and i read it haunting and stays with you long after you've finished.
This was so haunting and wrenching that after reading til 1:00 a.m. I couldn't sleep and had to take a sleeping pill! More later.
Aug 12, 2014 Lynn rated it liked it
I give this 2 1/2 stars. Just a few days ago I read Cook's "The Chatham School Affair"; it was the first of his novels that I've read. I enjoyed it. This book I enjoyed a little less. That could be because, reading the two books so closely together I noticed many similarities in the layout of the stories, so that what seemed to me at first as really original, seemed to me at second glance as derivative (of the author's own work!). I will say that Cook is very effective in evoking a time and a pl ...more
Mar 19, 2015 Sfilante rated it it was ok
I'm one of the people who forced myself to finish the book even though I was done with it before I was halfway through. I wanted to discover what all the five star reviews were about.
This might have worked better as a short story about the cost of a decision taken in childhood. The narrator tells us again and again about doomed love and guilt and secrets. It didn't take too long before I was clear that no secret was worth wading through the rest of the tortured and slow revealing of the story.
Nov 10, 2009 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
Compelling mystery about a first love gone wrong. Suspenseful.
Feb 17, 2014 Frances rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my mystery group
A coming-of-age story in a small Southern town with first love, passion, jealousy and a brutal murder with a long-held secret. The narrator holds on to the story and the guilt and gives up only little bits at a time. The murder and its secrets are examined many years later by the narrator who is the well-respected town doctor but was a young kid jealously in love with the murder victim and a major part of the story.
This is a beautifully written book that recreates a small town and it people with
Suzn F
Oct 07, 2013 Suzn F rated it really liked it
This is the third book I've now read/listened to by this author and so far I've found every one of his books to be so very interesting and engaging. This story revolves around the questions and secrets surrounding a young girl's murder and a young boy's (who as an adult becomes the small town physician) unrequited love for the girl. This book has mystery and meat. The small town politics and antics that often populate Mr Cook's stories serve as a backdrop for this book. It is the old south that ...more
Ted Berggren
I read this book a while back, but it still sticks with me for one reason. I thought I knew where the story was heading, when I got hit with the biggest "I didn't see that coming" moment I ever experienced while reading. Great story, great writing, and a great ending.
Georgina Hynd
Dec 30, 2014 Georgina Hynd rated it really liked it
I had to remove myself for a while after reading this story to decide whether or not I liked it. It was an odd sensation and one I couldn't convey to my husband as I told him it wasn't for him mere seconds after closing its pages for the final time. That suggestion still stands, it's definitely not one for him, but it's one now, many hours on, that I've found myself saying 'ok I understand why Cook went the way he did now'. I've lived for 298 pages inside the head of a man who's been carrying an ...more
Aug 25, 2011 Rick rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific book ... especially if your heart is broken, or you are interested in how that can affect a large, connected group of people. It is also a murder mystery, with a great deal of complexity. The dates of events are not realistically spaced, and the writer shows a shocking gap in knowledge of 1957 Chevyrolets, but the book is otherwise fabulously well-written. It is set in early 1960s small-town northern Alabama, and from my knowledge of small-town Kentucky in the early '60s, I'd ...more
May 28, 2015 LeAnne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an easy read, requiring little thought - probably good for a beach weekend w margaritas. That said, the book's seemingly endless "did he or didn't he?" became annoying after the fourth or fifth (or tenth) time. A portion of the ending, revealed by the old mother, was good stuff. Otherwise, it was so-so.
David Bonesteel
Jun 09, 2013 David Bonesteel rated it it was amazing
Town doctor Ben Wade narrates the sad history of Kelly Troy, a bright, intelligent girl who moves into a small Southern community, both shocking it with her outspoken views on segregation and charming it with her natural vivacity before she is tragically attacked on top of Breakheart Hill. Ben falls deeply in love with her, and author Thomas H. Cook is very good at depicting the black mood he falls into when his love is not returned. The narrative moves back and forth in time, skillfully manipul ...more
Misha Crews
Aug 30, 2012 Misha Crews rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
It's virtually impossible to give this book the review it deserves without providing rampant spoilers. So I'll just say that I started the first few chapters believing (foolishly) that I knew where the story was headed, that I knew whodunnit and why. And I ended up reading the last chapter with my mouth hanging open, catching flies and not caring, because the truth was much more shocking, much more tragic, than I would ever have let myself believe.

This is a truly great literary mystery. Written
May 01, 2016 Solim rated it it was amazing
I think this one might be better than The Chatham School Affair. Thomas H. Cook is the best mystery writer in my opinion and this book is insanely good. The characters, the twists, the relate-able plot(to an extent) were more than I could ask for from this book. I always get sucked into his world for whatever book I am reading. His prose ties in perfectly and at the end I feel as if people really existed and the tragedy that happened actually happened. His books always haunt long after I am done ...more
Prashanth Kanichar
beautiful. writing a crime novel and it turning it into a piece of literature is not everybody's cup of tea. I felt numb after finishing. totally blank..Thomas h cook great job sir
Helen Beesley
Apr 05, 2016 Helen Beesley rated it it was amazing
May well be my new favorite author! Fabulous and not easy to figure out!!!!!
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Thomas H. Cook has been praised by critics for his attention to psychology and the lyrical nature of his prose. He is the author of more than 30 critically-acclaimed fiction books, including works of true crime. Cook published his first novel, Blood Innocents, in 1980. Cook published steadily through the 1980s, penning such works as the Fra
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