The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond Parthian Books
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.
The Golden Orphans is slim, but that is not to say it does not pack an awful lot into its 155 pages.
It’s beginning was certainly not a happy one as our main protagonist attended the funeral of his past art lecturer and friend Francis Bentham. What he didn’t bargain for was involvement with Benthams’ Russian employer Illie Prostakov and the ensuing events.
Now The Golden Orphans was not what I would call a traditional thriller, the beginning very much gave the novel a contemporary feel as our unnamed protagonist wrestled with his doomed relationship and his involvement with Prostakov.
The detailed narrative took us deep into the modern Cypriot culture, the strip of Aya Napa, the rowdy tourists and numerous bars, before delving into the history of a divided country. It was a history that was immediately interesting and engaging, a history off the well know beaten track and I found it utterly fascinating. Our unnamed protagonist was drawn into that history and this where the novel took a decidedly dark turn, the contemporary making way for the thriller side of the novel.
It was a switch that was skilfully executed by Raymond, so seamless that I as a reader barely noticed.
Raymond was able to reveal the true nature of his characters, as you began to question just who was telling the truth and who was not.
The latter parts of the novel were wonderfully tense and dramatic, the settings absolutely perfect, the truth unsettling and shocking.
The whole novel was for me, wonderfully atmospheric, the Cypriot settings wonderfully described by Raymond.
There was a poignant and emotional touch that, despite the intrigue and drama stood out above everything else and you could not help but feel great sorrow for many of the characters.
My only criticism is that the novel did not have more pages.
I would like to thank Parthian Books for a copy of The Golden Orphans to read and review and to Damp Pebbles for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
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.