Thorn in the Flesh
  “Read this book if you want the hairs to stand up on the back of your neck."

Jill Weekes, online book reviewer  

Thorn in the Flesh - Reviews

  • "I've been reviewing ebook titles for many years now, and it seems that titles from independent publishers fall into one of three categories: We are actually authors who decided to start up a publishing house, so we'll publish pretty much anything; Well, we publish what we like to read. Unfortunately, nobody else wants to read it. And then there's the third, more elusive group: We may not be well known, but we DO know what we're doing. Case in point here would be the magnificent capture of Anne Brooke's Thorn In The Flesh, originally a print release by Goldenford Publishers in the UK and released in electronic format by Bristlecone Pine Press. It's a novel of depth, character study and a fence-straddler between literary fiction and mystery. The plot is actually pretty basic. Kate Harris is a lecturer at a university in England, and the victim of a home invasion that results in her being raped by an unknown assailant. Kate's attempt to come to grips with what has happened to her leads her to start investigating the case herself. Along her inquiries, she's forced to open a veritable Pandora's box of issues from her past, including putting her son up for adoption, her attraction to her best friend (a woman named Nicky) and her need to figure out what is happening in her life. It only makes matters worse that her attacker continues to send her threatening letters, informing her that more trouble is on the way. Thankfully, Brooke chooses not to take her character on a mission that eventually turns her into a Thelma and Louise or Jennifer Lopez in Enough character in which she pumps a bunch of iron, grabs a gun and goes after everyone who ever wronged her. Smartly, Brooke leads Kate through the emotional rollercoaster aftermath that one would expect after having something terrible happen. Kate has her ups where she feels she can go on and everything will be fine, then crashes and wonders what she's going to do next. Kate in one moment heads to London to find the son she gave up for adoption, and in another has her climbing into bed weeping, wondering how she can go on. By allowing Kate to react in a normal fashion, rather than as a stereotype of woman-comes-into-her-own, the character becomes infinitely more believable and enduring. Even Brooke's supporting characters are amazingly fleshed-out, all with their own nuances and character flaws. Kate has an attraction to her friend Nicky, who is dealing with issues of her own in her marriage. Nicky's husband David is finding himself lost between trying to provide for the family, while being everything a husband and father can be and at the same time being secretly jealous of the relationship between Kate and Nicky. These other two characters bring an extra element to the story, without ever making the novel feel as if they were thrown in for window dressing. There is a subplot to this novel that I won't go into here, only because it would pretty much give away much of the mystery aspect of the story. To be honest, there isn't much of a secret here as to who Kate's attacker turns out to be, and Brooke reveals it pretty early on in the story. There is a showdown in the final chapters that is mostly satisfying, especially in the fact that this isn't your typical ending where the victim is immensely triumphant. Everyone loses something in the end in this novel, and at the same time all of the characters gain new insight into themselves and the world around them. It's hard to throw this work into a particular genre, as it encompasses so many: Mystery, Literary Fiction, Lesbian Fiction to name a few. With the incredibly fluid writing style of Brooke, however, this work should be primarily labelled (in my opinion) as a work of Literary Fiction, on par with some of the greatest writers of our time. The ebook is virtually flawless, it's engaging and immersive. An impressive work all-around. FINAL VERDICT: Eread? Indeed! Buy a copy at top speed. More from this author, we need.” (Review of the Thorn in the Flesh ebook on on 5 December 2008)

  • "I’ve been meaning to write a review of 'Thorn in the Flesh' for some time. It’s taken a while partly because I haven’t known quite what to say. It’s like a discovery you look forward to sharing with someone special - but you don’t want to tell them too much and spoil the surprise. Surprising it certainly is. Having read three of Anne’s novels now one might expect to see a certain pattern emerging – qualities in the writing that makes you think – ah yes, this is typical; this is similar to what she did before. Many of us are happy to read our favourite authors confident that they will deliver more of the same ingredients that worked so well before. No – think again. Each of Anne’s books is gloriously individual – each builds on the strength of what has gone before to deliver something new – a fresh experience for the reader. When I read 'Thorn in the Flesh' I literally could not put it down. Anne delivers a compelling story that keeps you turning the pages. I found her strong central character Kate entirely believable. She is depicted with searing honesty and the character is fearless in her refusal to compromise – to conform to expectation. I imagine that because of this Kate is a character the reader will love – or love to hate. Here is a woman who is attacked in the sanctuary of her own home – whose certainties and securities are torn away – what happens next? Where does she go from here? 'Thorn in the Flesh' is not a comfortable read, it provides no cosy solutions and ultimately it gives no easy answers. It gets under the skin of the reader and causes you to look into the void – to imagine the unimaginable. It is to the credit of the author that the character’s journey is so believable. To me there is truth in the story and integrity in the writing. The story taps into the resonance of ancient myth delivered with the pace and assurance of a modern thriller. Read and enjoy.” (Review from Sarah Watts on the Writewords site)

  • "I have just finished reading Anne Brooke's 'Thorn in the Flesh'. In the end, having carried it around with me for the last few days I found I had to know what happened, and read the last 100 pages nearly at a sitting. Kate, like most of us, is her own worst enemy. She is a very private person and does not confide even in her best and oldest friend, Nicky. If she had done things might have been different. Kate is raped. She is afraid she knows who it was, even though he wore a mask. But she only tells the police part of her ordeal and doesn't tell them about the threatening letters she has been receiving before and after the attack. Kate does not want to face up to her past. She would rather bury it deep and not acknowledge it even to herself. But the attack forces her to confront both her past and her own character flaws. When Nicky may be in danger, Kate finds she has the strength to overcome. The book raises many issues, including how a woman deals with that most feared of crimes - rape - especially when she thinks she knows who her attacker is. How to continue a very close relationship with a childhood friend when she marries and has a family, without coming between her and her husband. How to deal with the past and your own memories when the past comes back to haunt you. It is not a comfortable story to read, but it is gripping and all women will identify with Kate, when she tries to overcome the mistakes of her youth. Kate's solution to her problems develops from her own particular character and the violent ending is wholly right for the story. Read this book if you want the hairs to stand up on the back of your neck. You will question your own feelings about rape, friendship and your attitude to your own past." (Review by Jill Weekes on her online book review site on 2 March 2008)

  • "'Thorn in the Flesh' is a gripping psychological thriller whose central character Kate goes through a whole gamut of emotions from the deeply sensual to the tenderness of true friendship, betrayal, loss, fear, a sense of personality annihilation and nail biting terror. I am constantly amazed by Anne Brooke's ability to understand abnormal levels of perversion. But at the end of this novel one is left not with the feeling of an abnormal caricature but more with a query and urge to understand what strange twist of otherwise normal events could have sown such a tragic seed." (Margaret Gill, author of ‘Narwhal’)

  • "In ‘Thorn in the Flesh’, Anne Brooke has written a book that is full of passion and tension. The heroine, Kate Harris, is a strong, resilient woman but, after a violent attack and stalked by the unknown aggressor, she cannot help but attract our sympathy. And so we follow her throughout the book, observing her tender relationships with the people she loves. We also accompany her on her journey into the past to places we would rather not go – to the darkest of places in the present. Anne Brooke gives an authentic feel to the seamy underbelly of London, where down-and-outs live in their own sub-culture and where Kate Harris is forced to go in her quest for the truth. In contrast, Brooke also describes the cosy environment of Godalming, where Kate lives and where much of the action takes place. Throughout the journey, readers will be on the edge of their seat and will remain there until the climax of the story, at the very end. A book that should not be missed. Anne Brooke's best, so far. (A five-star review on Amazon by Jacquelynn Luben, author of ‘Tainted Tree’ and ‘A Bottle of Plonk’)

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