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Thorn in the Flesh Paperback – October 21, 2015
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About the Author
Anne Brooke lives in Surrey, UK. She is a multi-published author in a variety of genres, including gay erotic romance, fantasy, comedy, thrillers, biblical fiction and the occasional chicklit novel. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize (for novels set in London) and the Royal Literary Fund Scheme. When not writing, she spends time in the garden attempting to differentiate between flowers and weeds. Occasionally, she can also be found in the kitchen making cakes. Every now and again, they are edible.
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This is a dark story. There is no getting around that. Ordinarily, I don't care for dark stories, but as with her A Dangerous Man, Brooke has me fascinated with the main character I didn't like very much.
In a way, that is unfair to Kate because the trauma she experiences happens at the end of the first chapter but we don't know exactly what happened until well into the second and by then, I didn't like her. But she is so deftly written that I had to keep going.
What was clear to me early on, I think in the second but definitely in the third chapter that Kate was convinced that she knew whodunit. The book is really about Kate healing, taking charge, and finding out if her hunch is correct or not.
There is some very necessary backstory fleshed out for us. Once again I was fascinated with a character I didn't like and that is Peter. I did not understand why Kate was so fascinated with him but Brooke's ability to handle details had me fascinated with Kate's fascination.
Another thing Brooke does with her books and stories is leaving me wanting to know more. What happens to the people after the book ends? What do they do next? How do they change? Whom do they become?
After she is violently assaulted, all Kate Harris wants to do is return to her old life. While she certainly needs time to recover from such a traumatic experience, I was pleasantly surprised to see Kate being surrounded by such sympathetic friends, medical professionals, and law enforcement officers as she heals. It was even more gratifying to see Kate acknowledge what happened to her without allowing it to be the defining experience of her life.
After the terror of the first scene the plot slows down for several chapters. I enjoyed the chance to learn more about the longstanding friendship between Kate and Nicky, her best friend. They clearly have known one another a long time, and their bond is so strong that even when they're grouchy I felt the love and concern behind their complaints.
What I didn't understand about this novel was why Kate refuses to tell the police about the anonymous threats she receives after she's discharged from the hospital. At the very least they could have documented what was happening in case her tormentor decides to escalate the situation. Yes, sometimes the police don't respond to these things appropriately, but I didn't understand why a woman who had positive interactions with them in the past wouldn't try a little harder to keep the authorities up-to-date.
With that being said, Kate Harris is a wonderfully nuanced protagonist. As I read this book, I felt like I was catching up with an old, dear friend whose choices occasionally frustrate me. At times I wished Kate was a real person so I could gently scold her for making such poor decisions in the past. A woman as intelligent and socially aware as her really ought to know better, but the strong character development and attention to detail made this book impossible to put down.
Thorn in the Flesh is a slow burning mystery woven into the ordinary lives of a close-knit group of friends. This is a great choice for readers who prefer to get to know characters well before the plot heats up. The payoff at the end is well worth the initial emotional investment!
Originally posted at Long and Short Reviews
Thorn in the Flesh begins with a horrifically traumatic event in Kate's life. Afterward Kate begins to examine her life.
Is she happy? Is she where she wants to be? Are there things in her past that should be cleared up?
Kate is a nuanced character. There were times I loved and hated her. She has a best friend, Nicky, but Kate has never really let Nicky "know" her. Kate holds back but Nicky confronts her. I was so proud of Kate when she decided to be fully honest with Nicky.
We all need comfort at times. It's not shameful to ask for or need it.
Kate didn't handle herself well in the past. She made some serious mistakes in how she treated others. But she did not deserve what happened to her because of it.
Kate examines herself and makes the necessary changes. Her emotional growth throughout the book is astounding. She was committed to starting a new life.
The plot twist is off the charts! I can't say more or it would be too obvious. I will say this, Thorn in the Flesh is emotionally stirring, dealing with circumstances that most of us will never understand. I began the story not having much respect for Kate. By the end of the book, I felt as if I'd been to hell and back with her.
Despite never having been in Kate's circumstances, the story made me think about my own life and where I am currently.
I recommend the book to everyone. I think men who have a loved one who has gone through such an event will understand more if they read Thorn in the Flesh.
This review and more at openbooksociety dot com