Michael and his brother, Julian, were raised in a home for boys. The Iron Hose provided shelter and discipline. Julian was constantly abused by the other boys and Michael wanted to protect his brother and was forced to fight for both of them. As a result, he became a ferocious combatant. When Julian finally struck back at his main tormentor, Michael took the blame.
Julian was adopted and Michael left the home and lived on the streets, again, constantly having to defend himself. At age fifteen, he was attacked by a group of boys in Spanish Harlem. He fought courageously and Otto Kaitlin, a crime boss, witnessed the fight and rescued Michael. Otto saw a similarity to himself as a youngster and Michael became his protege and later, Otto's main enforcer. Otto's own son, Steven, continued his education but didn't have Michael's fighting spirit.
Years later, when Michael meets Elena, he falls in love. When she becomes pregnant, Michael wants to get out of the life of crime and have a normal existence. In his life, he has come to love three things, his brother, Julian, Otto, and now Elena, the mother of his furute child. He asks Otto for his blessing but Otto is near death and Michael understands that Otto's son Steven and his main henchman, Jimmy, won't allow him to leave.
Michael visits Otto once again and sees the man suffering so greatly from his pain that when Otto pleads for Michael to end his suffering, Michael obliges.
Michael understands that he is now an enemy of Steven and Jimmy. He must leave with Elena with Steven and Jimmy after them for revenge.
There is a parallel story of Julian's life after adoption. His adoptive parents are wealthy. His adoptive father is a senator running for office and his adoptive mother, Abigail is fiercely protective of Julian. Then Julian's past returns to haunt him and his path and Michael's converge.
The story is reminiscent of Charles Dickens where the central characters at the start of the story are in terrible situations and are impoverished. Somehow, they must rise above the destitude
to succeed in their lives. The manner in which this transformation takes place is memorable and delivered with mounting drama and suspense and yet it is entirely realistic and well described. John Hart's readers will be taken on a dramatic ride that they have never experienced before.