The Bones of Summer
  A complicated and intriguing tale ... [Literary Nymph Reviews]

The Bones of Summer - Reviews

  • “Growing up with a religious zealot for a father wasn’t easy, which explained why Craig Robertson left home after the discovery of his underage gay affair. He moved to London, changed his name and got on with his life, becoming a small-time actor and model. His life changes for the second time, when an old neighbor notifies him that his estranged father has disappeared. Lucky for Craig, his new lover, Paul Maloney, is a private detective and he agrees to accompany him to his hometown to help in the search. Going home is difficult, dredging up painful memories of an abusive childhood after the sudden disappearance of his mother when he was six. As the search progresses, they learn that his long-ago lover, Michael, has been missing since the day they were discovered. It’s clear there are gaps in Craig’s memory, leading him to suspect that there’s something in his past he doesn’t want to remember. When Craig confesses to Paul his fear that Michael is dead and that he’s responsible, Paul refuses to believe his lover is a murderer. As Craig’s hunt for the truth turns to obsession, the lovers’ new and fragile relationship begins to fall apart, leaving him to search on his own. Alone and being stalked, Craig must face the terrors of his past, and hope he can survive to have a future. The Bones of Summer by Anne Brooke is a complicated and intriguing tale of a man struggling to cope with his life in the aftermath of a painful and difficult childhood, lived with a cold, hard and uncaring religiously fanatical father. On first impression, this complex story might appear to be overwhelmed with fear, pain and angst and while that’s partly true, it’s not the whole truth. It’s also the story of Craig and Paul, finding each other, and the passion, love, desire and friendship that builds between them, despite their individual painful pasts, hidden secrets and lies. Emotions run high throughout the story and both men break down in tears on more than one occasion or verbally clash, saying hateful, vicious things to each other. Other times the sex is hot and passionate. In truth, they are often at odds, despite how they feel for one another and the search for Craig’s father and his fear of what might have happened only strain an already fragile relationship. So, while at heart The Bones of Summer is a story of Craig and Paul, the fuel that propels the story forward, and causes most of their problems, is Craig’s father, his missing ex-lover and his fear of what he might have done that summer, seven years ago. The father in this tale is a true ‘bay guy’. A fanatic so certain that what he thinks justifies his actions. I have to admit that Ms. Brooke caught me off guard when his disappearance turned into a stalking of his estranged son. Take it from me. This man is crazy, but makes a great villain, perfect for hating. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Craig has periods where a wicked sense of humor pokes through, and he says something that makes me chuckle. This is particularly true when he spouts his self-created Gay Rules. He’s also, deep down, an optimistic man who hopes for a happy and successful future.” [A “5 Nymph” review by Mystical Nymph at Literary Nymph Reviews]

  • “This is my first full marks review and to be honest I'm a little nervous as to whether what I'm going to write now will actually do this book justice. It was that good. So good, in fact, that I may run out of superlatives. So good, that my mind disappeared into 'book world' and I spent every single spare moment reading. So good, that even when I had to do pesky real life things like cooking I was still thinking about the book, wondering what was going to happen next or mulling over the characters, their merits and their flaws. At the beginning of The Bones of Summer everything is going well for Craig. He's happy with where he lives and is good friends with the two women he shares a house with. He likes his modelling job, even if he's not been able to get on as an actor. Best of all, is that he gets a phone call from a guy he met a couple of months ago, Paul, who wants to get together and maybe start something. Things are on the up for Craig and he's happy to go with it and forget all about the terrible things that happened to him when he ran away from his Devon home seven years before. Unfortunately for Craig, life has a way of kicking you in the teeth when you least expect it. Just after his first date (and night) with Paul, he receives a letter from an old neighbour and friend in Devon telling him that his father is missing. This starts off a chain of events which forces Craig to return to Devon and his past and confront all that he was attempting to forget. Paul is a Private Detective and offers to help Craig investigate his past. This then impacts on their tentative relationship. There are two main themes running through this book. The first, and most obvious theme is that of facing up to your past. Craig ran away from his abusive Father at the age of seventeen and has spent the intervening years trying to avoid thinking of his childhood and the events which led to him leaving. The past, as they say, has a way of catching up with you and I found it admirable in Craig that he faces up to that once he realises that he can't stay in hiding forever. His reaction to going back to Devon was a mixture of heartbreaking and confusing for the reader. Craig himself has large gaps in his memory and often reacts to his surroundings in a very emotional way that even he can't understand, let alone explain to Paul. It takes time and a painful stripping away of the layers before Craig is even able to discover what happened. The reader is taken along with that emotional rollercoaster and I found that I had to be very patient and wait, like Craig does, before I got answers to the many questions that I had as I was reading. Paul too has a past. He has suffered tragedy and betrayal in his life which you would think would make him the ideal person to help Craig through this difficult time. However, things are never that simple which leads to the second theme: That of secrets and lies. Both men have secrets from each other. In one sense this is understandable; they have just met each other and are starting a tentative journey on the road to love. Neither one of them want to share their past with each other yet. Craig doesn't want to scare Paul off and Paul has his own reasons to which we are not privy. It did annoy me that Paul often accuses Craig of lying to him, when, rather hypocritically, he never comes wholly clean about his own past. In fact, I found myself getting cross with Paul quite a lot throughout the book. On one hand he offers to help Craig and even spends a lot of time supporting him through this terrible time; but on the other hand he uses quite brutal methods to force Craig to open up and speak about his past. Methods such as the use of emotional blackmail by withdrawing his approval or acting coldly towards him or blowing hot and cold so that Craig is confused as to where he stands in their relationship. I wasn't sure I liked Paul, but that didn't mean he wasn't a terrific character. He was - as is any character who draws such a response from me. If you are thinking that this sounds like a very angst filled book, then you will be right. Emotions run high throughout the novel. Both men are strong characters who are dealing in their own way with distressing things that have happened to them. Sometimes they break down in tears; sometimes they clash horribly and say dreadful things to each other; sometimes they make love fiercely in order to forget; sometimes they close up and suffer in silence. These were complex men and I was never really sure how they would react at any time. It was this unpredictability that had me on the edge of my seat throughout the book. What a thrilling ride! Having said that, the book wasn't all doom and gloom and what saved it from being too heavy going was the internal voice of Craig. He had a typical British self-depreciating sense of humour and a ready wit, which brought out humour in the direst of circumstances. An example of this was his self-created list of 'rules for gay men'. But he’d better not forget Gay Rule Number One: At least find out a name and a job before you do the business. Craig also has a great optimism about him. He always tries to focus on the good, even if he does worry about the bad things which are happening to him. This idealistic cheerfulness was appealing and coupled with Craig's sarcastic humour often gets him into trouble, but did help to lighten the feel of the book. I've only touched the surface of what was so great about this book. It wasn't just the realistic characterisation that made this book a fantastic read. The settings were so ordinary, so domestic, such as kitchens, bedrooms, an office, a club, and yet terrible things happened in those settings so that their mere ordinariness added to the chill down the spine. The plotting was tight, with each clue, each answer, being revealed slowly until a breathtaking, frantic, thrilling conclusion. Have I waxed lyrical enough about this book? I don't think I can. All I can do is recommend that you read The Bones of Summer. Actually, this goes beyond recommendation to a plea - if you like mystery; if you like character driven books; if you like reading compulsively, unable to part with the story for even a short time; then you must read this book.” [A 5+ star review from Jenre on Jessewave Review site]

  • “This was a great read. Told from the viewpoint of a new character - Craig Robertson - it also features Paul Maloney, the lead character in a previous book by Anne called Maloney's Law. It is definitely not necessary to have read Maloney's Law to enjoy this story though, (this stands up completely on its own as an independent tale) but I'm glad that I did. Mainly because Paul felt like an old friend to me from the beginning, I felt like I knew him, in a way that Craig obviously couldn't as he'd only just met him. Also whenever Paul talked of his past, his 'friend' or his 'ex', I knew who, and what, he was referring to. I knew what had brought Paul to this point in his life. Although, as I've said, it's not necessary to do so, as this story rips along at its own fast pace! (I actually did imagine sometimes when I was reading that it would be equally nice to learn about Paul at the same time as Craig does ... so it's good either way!). Craig was a very endearing character and I loved his Gay Rules. This is a good mystery AND a good love story. I'm just glad these two men found each other ... I enjoyed this book very much.” [A five star review by Rosie at the Goodreads site]

  • “I must say that Anne Brooke can really write a good book. I was floored by Maloney's Law and now the sequel has done the same. Brooke is a terrific writer and if you have not read her, you are really missing something. Craig Robertson's father, a religious fanatic, disappeared and Craig is forced to come home to look for answers. Craig left his hometown after having being involved in an underage affair. He is now with his partner, Paul Maloney, a private investigator, who is helping him deal with his father's disappearance. As Craig begins to investigate he learns that Michael, the guy with whom he had been involved, has also disappeared. What was a search for his father soon becomes a search into Craig's own past and he is afraid of what might be exposed. He tells Paul that his biggest fear is that Michael is now dead and he, Craig, is responsible. Of course, Paul does not accept this. Craig becomes obsessive with uncovering clues and this wears on the men's relationship. Ultimately Craig is left to face his own memories because if he does not, there is little hope of any future for him. Both Craig and Paul are wonderfully drawn characters and the plot moves interestingly and quickly. The language is beautiful and this is one of those books you will not soon forget. ” [A five star review from Amos Lassen on Amazon US]

  • The Bones of Summer by Anne Brooke is an exceptionally well written and thrilling mystery novel. This novel grabbed a hold of me almost immediately and would not let go. I found myself reading until the early morning hours. The plot is quite interesting but what really intrigued me most about this book is Craig himself. He survived a terrible childhood. I admired his resilience. His father’s fanaticism is extremely disturbing and also very sad. The last few chapters are especially chilling and will stay with me for a long time.” [A 4.5 star review from Christina at Romance Junkies Reviews]

  • A review from Moira Briggs on the Vulpes Libris Site

  • A review on the Rainbow Reviews Site

  • A review from Val Kovalin on the Obsidian Bookshelf Site

  • A review from Ann Somerville on the Outlaw Reviews Site

  • A review from Cassie on the Joyfully Reviewed Site
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