A short, sharp thriller which will keep you guessing. 4/5 stars.
Published by Parthian Books on 30th June 2018.
Hello everyone! I’m delighted to be one of today’s stop on the blog tour for The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond. Thank you to Emma at damppebbles and the author for giving me the chance to read and review the book.
Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…
Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…
The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.
It’s been ages since I read a book when I honestly had no idea what to expect next. This was the greatest pleasure in reading The Golden Orphans which will keep you guessing the whole way through possibly because it refuses to fit neatly in any one genre: it’s part mystery, part thriller, and almost a coming of age story, if a character can “come of age” as part of a midlife crisis! Refreshingly, the author never gives into the temptation to over-explain, instead trusting the reader to keep up and not mind finding out exactly what’s going on at the same time as the main character.
The setting adds to this mystique and air of ambiguity. The Golden Orphans draws on both the geography and history of Cyprus creatively, taking us beyond the infamy of Ayia Napa to show us some of the reclusive beauty of the island which attracts artists and all sorts of wanderers. The history of the invasion and partition of Cyprus is touched upon a few times and the consequences of these events turns out to have greater repercussions on the plot than is immediately obvious.
The main thread of the story involves attempts to paint dreams, and there is often a dreamlike quality to sections of the narrative as our narrator is often disorientated in environments which are entirely alien to him, divorced as they are from his greyer day-to-day in England. At points this made me to feel there was almost something mythical about the story, and indeed another plot line does turn out to have something very important in common with a famous Greek myth (I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers!).
The characters are all interesting, if various shades of suspicious. The artist main character is sympathetic even though he could have come across as an indebted drifter; he has the clearest moral boundaries of all the characters and it’s good to be in his company when others behave questionably.
Overall: if you’re looking for a quick read (incredibly, only 155 pages) which will keep you entertained and guessing right up to the final twist, I highly recommend The Golden Orphans.
Get the book!
About the author:
Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.
And if you’d like to follow the rest of the blog tour, here are where you’ll find the other stops:
Claire Huston / Art and Soul