A Dangerous Man
Author: Anne Brooke
Publisher: Bristlecone Pine Press
Characters: Michael Jones, Jack Hutchinson
POV: 1st person
Setting: Hackney, London, England
Genre: Suspense/Psychological Thriller
Cover Rating: 4
Michael Jones, a young gay artist and part-time prostitute will do anything to stage his first exhibition. When he falls in love with rich financier, Jack Hutchinson, he seems set to achieve his goal. But as Mikey becomes caught between the unforgiving territory of smoky-bar Hackney and the green-garden luxury of upper class London, we discover the intense mindscape of a man obsessed with his dreams as he attempts to free himself of his past. When a net of antagonistic relationships and inner battles encroaches upon him, the consequences of Mikey’s uncompromising pursuit emerge in thrilling tragedy, leaving him having to fight for all he holds dear, and in the only way he knows how. Within a plot thick with the flesh of individual struggle, a backbone of page-turning tension carries Mikey’s plight through the charcoal grey London which rubs itself so close to his skin, entrapping him in a dark kaleidoscope of sex and crime. Pushing him to the full expression of his haunting richness, Brooke alerts us to the psychological discourse and emotional minefield of a troubled man struggling to establish a sense of self and place in urban England.
A Dangerous Man could just as easily have been titled A Desperate Man, as Anne Brooke weaves an acutely suspenseful story which slowly, methodically, and brilliantly exposes the dreams and despairs of a twenty-four year old artist, Michael Jones, whose ambitions might very well exceed his talents. He is also a man who isn’t above trading his body for both money and favors to ensure those ambitions come to fruition; he prostitutes both himself and his talents, justifying his behavior in the name of his personal goals.
Michael presents a chilling portrait of a steadily discontented man who believes in himself and his abilities far more than anyone else believes in him. His surroundings, the gray and desolate part of the city in which he resides, do their best to shape Michael into something he doesn’t wish to be. It is when he meets Jack Hutchinson, the older, wealthy man who becomes a potential benefactor and redeemer for Michael, that the reader becomes invested in the conflicts Michael will endure, and endures the manipulations that Michael employs to obtain that which he covets.
There is a certain beauty to this book’s narrative; it is at once oppressive and aesthetic, creating the perfect mood and environment for the reader to witness the psychological, physical, and emotional unraveling of a man who, it becomes apparent, seems intent upon sabotaging the potential for his own happiness and success. The prose is dense with emotion and imagery, lush in atmosphere. This is a story that unfolds as though the reader is seeing an optical illusion—what at once appears to be one thing becomes something entirely other, the longer it is studied and analyzed. It is akin to watching the stark lines on a blank paper evolve into a destructive and frenzied image that couldn’t have been predicted at its inception. It is dark and it is intense and evolves as such in concert with Michael’s deterioration.
Michael is the narrator and director of this tale, relating, in retrospect, the events during a nine month period. Telling his story with the gift of hindsight lends a despondent quality to the narrative, as the reader realizes the events to come have already been set in motion and there is nothing that can possibly be done to alter their outcome. The only thing the reader can do is to witness, then to interpret the finished work. And the final product? It is stunning, explosive, and absolutely pitch-perfect.
A Dangerous Man is a taut psychological thriller that one doesn’t necessarily consume as much as savor. It is too rich and satisfying to finish quickly.
Reviewed By: Lisa