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The Guns of Heaven (Hard Case Crime #24)
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The Guns of Heaven (Hard Case Crime #024)

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  229 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Nostradamus he isn't; but award-winning journalist Pete Hamill's 1983 pulp noir classic, The Guns of Heaven -- reissued with new cover art by Hard Case Crime -- has disturbing similarities to the events of 9/11. American reporter Sam Briscoe, after visiting relatives in Northern Ireland and inadvertently getting involved in an international IRA
Paperback, 254 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Hard Crime Case (first published 1983)
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Dan Schwent
Aug 08, 2010 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Reporter Sam Briscoe meets up with an IRA leader in Northern Ireland and agrees to bring a letter back to the States. Unfortunately, some don't want that letter delivered and follow Briscoe back to New York to prevent the delivery...

Interesting tidbit: Pete Hamil was one of the men that disarmed Sirhan Sirhan after he shot RFK. I have to think that might be part of why this was selected to be part of the Hard Case Crime library. As far as Hard Case Crime books go, this one is on the likeable sid
May 19, 2015 Rade rated it it was ok
This book was full of cliches. You got a journalist who antagonizes his enemy, has someone from the family get kidnapped, somehow can use guns/fight his way through trouble, has almost endless number of people who have connections on the upper level, has a disapproving ex wife, shares some intimate love with a person who betrays him, is part of a giant conflict that he did want but was dragged into it anyway, has a family member killed which reinforces his anger towards the enemy,
Jun 06, 2017 Dave rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hard-case-crime
This is one top-notch terrific book from beginning to end. Hamill strikes just the right tone. He begins with a reporter returning to Belfast to visit with his uncle and interview Steele, a leader of the IRA. Hamill does a great job of evoking Belfast of the early 80's. It feels so dark and filled with despair as he goes through military checkpoints and doesn't know who to trust. The action starts very quickly as the reporter is followed through the streets and must fight off his pursuers. Steel ...more
Jim McGrath
Mar 16, 2017 Jim McGrath rated it it was amazing
The guns of Heaven may just be the greatest thriller to come out of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Hamill is a superb writer and what he has to say about the Troubles would grace the pages of any serious novel.
As a hard boiled detective thriller the book has everything the genre requires, a complex plot, a flawed hero, religious zealots, gangsters, killers and a femme fatale to die for (are there any other kind?) and the pace of a Porsche.
This is the first book I've read by Pete Hamill and no
Jul 15, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it
An excellent, quick read. Plenty of believable action, although he did put silencers on revolvers, but that was the only issue I noticed. The story was fast paced & well written. The plot was believable & logical. The character was well drawn & perfect. I loved the ending.
David Cerruti
It’s got a reporter, fist fights, bars, guns, car chases, a sexy dame begging for more, a kidnapping, betrayal, a bombing, the Irish Republican Army, weapons dealers, and an over-the-hill boxer. It is published by Hard Case Crime. Waddaya expect? It’s pulp fiction.

According to The New York Times Book Review, 4-16-2017: “Pete Hamill has written for New York newspapers and magazines since 1960 and has published 22 books, including the novels “Snow in August’ and Forever.” He is a writer in residen
Jun 22, 2012 Johnny rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Reading Pete Hamill offers an intriguing conundrum as to whether scenes or references are only meant to be fiction or whether they are autobiographical. As a journalist/writer penning the adventures of a journalist/writer named Sammy Briscoe, one gets the feeling that Hamill has trod this ground before. One can easily imagine him interviewing a mysterious IRA commander in some seedy Belfast hotel on the Catholic side and one can easily imagine that Dexter Gordon (the great saxophone player) woul ...more
Written more than 30 years ago, this slim book is less a crime story than it is a "ripped from the headlines" IRA thriller. It features a 40ish newspaper reporter sent to Belfast to do a story about a mysterious IRA commander who might turn the tide in the struggle against British occupation. The reporter is half-Irish, so he also meets up with his uncle, who is a lifelong IRA member. Danger ensures.

What I couldn't figure out is why, even though his uncle is murdered, and he knows he's being sou
Justin Helmer
Jan 07, 2017 Justin Helmer rated it liked it
Good story if a fairly straightforward a-b-c plot. Hamill was a news man just like his main character so the prose has a nice economy to it.
Newspaper reporter Sam Briscoe passes by Ireland en route to Switzerland to see his daughter, interviews an IRA leader for a quick St. Patrick’s Day piece, and agrees to pass a sealed envelope on to a barkeeper back in New York. Only, as the bar erupts minutes after he leaves, Briscoe finds that his life, and the life of his daughter, may indeed be in jeopardy. Following this is a rough-and-tumble chase through New York to uncover the truth, and save Briscoe’s daughter from harm, before these my ...more
Wayne Simmons
Mar 19, 2014 Wayne Simmons rated it it was amazing
What do you get when you cross a hard-boiled PI novel with the Troubles in Northern Ireland? THE GUNS OF HEAVEN by Pete Hamill, that’s what.

Jaded reporter, Sam Briscoe, stars in THE GUNS OF HEAVEN, the third entry in Pete Hamill’s four book hard-boiled crime series yet the first to get the Hard Case Crime makeover. It’s a curious tale sending our man Sam onto the troubled streets of West Belfast before catapulting him into a tangled web of conspiracy and assassination in his native New York. Ham
Dec 05, 2007 Justinthunderliger rated it did not like it
Knowing a bit about Pete Hamill will explain this book. Son of Irish Catholic Immigrants from NY, he was a reporter for the NY Post, and covered the conflicts in Norther Ireland. What would you imagine he would write a story about if he were to write a crime-fiction novel? If you guessed something about a newspaper reporter jazz afficianado from NY involved in the Irish conflict but also with a dislike for televangelism (and perhaps religion and the inherent conflicts within), you'd be dead on. ...more
Feb 23, 2008 David rated it did not like it
Shelves: noirboiled
There is not much to recommend this book. A partial list of problems: It muddles around extensively in Irish history and politics without saying much of interest. Its plot is first pedestrian and then worse when ***SPOILER ALERT*** it succumbs to the Hollywood cliché of the bad guys kidnapping our hero's daughter. The dialogue is third-rate Raymond Chandler ("If you could major in trouble, you'd have a Ph.D.!"). And, for a novel published in 1983, the female characters are remarkably two-dimensi ...more
Feb 06, 2017 Chris rated it really liked it
A solid, exciting read steeped in international politics and Irish history. It takes a little while to get going, but once it does, it's a pretty unique addition to the Hard Case series.
Jan 15, 2016 Leif rated it it was ok

Hard Case Crime books are great for quick, pulpy reads...and sometimes they aren't.

A decent story about a journalist getting involved with the IRA during the early 1980s. A cool idea (he serves as sort of a reluctant bagman for an honorable IRA colonel) turns into the most predictable of trash thrillers.

I like how the book says "Complete and Unabridged" on the cover. First, I think to indicate it is a reprinting of an older work...and second, to let us know that there are as many p
Jordan McPeek
Nov 18, 2010 Jordan McPeek rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, box-3
Decent quick read. Not having any knowledge of the Irish Troubles, it provided enough background to make it interesting and novel without taking me out of the story. No idea if it was a fair perspective, but it seemed even-handed. Plot and characterization were a little convenient in spots (very resourceful cop friend who's his connection to all he'd ever want from law enforcement; very resourceful bar friend who's his connection to all he'd ever want in the underworld). I rarely read a book in ...more
Feb 22, 2010 James rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
A bit of a disappointment. I love the Hard Case crime series. This one had a great set-up and the first third of the book, set in Ireland, I found exciting and interesting. When the action shifted to New York, I found it less interesting and very predictable. The plot also becomes a bit preposterous. Originally published in the early 80's, the book also feels a little dated. It's fast paced and well written, but could have been much better.
Peter Martin
Jan 25, 2013 Peter Martin rated it really liked it
Pages fly by as fast as they can be turned. Colorful in a realistic palette that nonetheless sounds like the best kind of movie thriller. The "tough guy reporter" button is pushed way too hard, but otherwise this is a terrific read, full of exciting incidents and the sort of characters one expects to find in a good pulp mystery.
Jan 31, 2010 Belinda rated it liked it
Really not bad. I have an interest in Northern Ireland history and this had enough facts to make it interesting. Briscoe, the main character is kind of a jerk. He just never knows when to leave it alone. However, the story is compelling enough to make it interesting.
Harry Casey
Oct 17, 2013 Harry Casey rated it did not like it
It starts well but gets worse as it goes on. Had the author stayed with the troubles in Northern Ireland it would have been worth a read. Instead we get too much pontificating and a character who doesn't know what he wants.Don't bother with it.
Oct 24, 2013 Bethany rated it liked it
Not the best mystery I've read (it dragged in parts, especially towards the middle) but I give it three stars because it gave me a good background on the Troubles, IRA, UVF, etc., but if I didn't have family from Belfast I probably wouldn't be as interested and I may have stopped reading.
Bill Walker
Aug 27, 2015 Bill Walker rated it liked it
Started out slow but developed into a good story. Actually learned more about the conflict in Ireland.
Aug 16, 2013 Ginger rated it really liked it
This is not the same Pete Hamill style of Forever and The North River - this is a hard case crime book - but it's a fun, good quick read. Kept my attention - lots of action.
Aug 25, 2007 Jeff rated it did not like it
I like Pete Hammill. He's a great writer. But a lousy novelist. I didn't think it was a good fit for the HCC line, either. Guess Charles likes Pete too.
Mar 26, 2011 Corey rated it really liked it
Fast paced and gritty. Like drinking Irish whiskey on the back of a Harley.
Feb 20, 2011 Du rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Gritty read that was fun to read. Flew by.
Jun 23, 2009 WK rated it really liked it
Talking about plots although this one is primarily about the IRA, UFI and a little SAS, it also has black gunrunners and American religious zealots.
Sep 10, 2012 Jonathan rated it liked it
Pete Hamill, can write a tale. This is another good choice in the Hard Case Crime library.
Oct 13, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Hard-boiled crime noir that goes deep into the IRA travelling from New York to Belfast to Switzerland from a former editor of the Post and the News.
May 12, 2008 Rose rated it liked it
This book was OK. It was more like a saturday matinee idol. Nothing could slow down the star of this book. I would recommend it if you are between books, it's a quick read.
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Pete Hamill is a novelist, essayist and journalist whose career has endured for more than forty years. He was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. in 1935, the oldest of seven children of immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He attended Catholic schools as a child. He left school at 16 to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheetmetal worker, and then went on to the United States Navy. While serving in t ...more
More about Pete Hamill...

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