Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Review: A Dangerous Man by Anne Brooke

Anne Brooke
A Dangerous Man

Published by Flame Books

Reviewed by Liam Tullberg

A Dangerous Man, the seventh novel by Anne Brooke, is a story about the shackles that the past can become and the lengths someone will go to for freedom.

It tells the story of young artist and part-time prostitute, Michael Jones, whose life becomes increasingly complicated when he falls in love with rich businessman, Jack Hutchinson.

Through first-person perspective, Brooke writes our protagonist well and captures his desperation to leave behind the world in which he has become entangled for one he has only ever dared dream about.

Having never before received praise for his art, Jones has become a closet artist and is given an opportunity by his art dealer landlord, Joe, to put together a collection for display in a successful city firm. Jones is delighted at being given a chance to follow his dream and his luck further improves when he arrives at the office to meet Hutchinson, a man unlike any other he's met before and whom he can't shake from his mind.

At the centre of the novel is a love affair in which Jones grows and matures, learning in equal measure about his lover and himself.

However hard Jones strives to leave his old life behind, it is made increasingly difficult by antagonists unwilling to let him forget his past. Paul, Joe's live-in boyfriend, is constantly reminding Jones that he is late with his rent and must pay in the most demeaning way, and Frank, the barman in Jones' local, The Two Ravens, is convincing him that 'people like him' don’t fall in love and accept this grim reality.

The most interesting tension, though, is that of Jones with himself, which Brooke portrays highly effectively. Completely devoid of self-esteem, Jones can't imagine why anyone can love him, and is constantly struggling to distinguish the difference between a lover and a punter, his inner turmoil manifesting itself in his dark drawings.

A Dangerous Man is an entertaining read with a strong narrative that builds to a climax leaving us wondering, despite everything, how far Jones has really come from the self he was trying to escape.

Liam Tullberg is currently working on his novel, Keeping You A Secret, and can be contacted through