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.
I would like to thank the author, publisher Parthian Books and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC in return for an honest review.
The Golden Orphans is a tale of an artist who is fleeing his past and present, arriving on Cyprus to bury a friend. In fleeing his own demons, he becomes entangled in those of a man haunted by his dreams.
When I started Golden Orphans I wasn’t sure it was or me, yet by the end I loved it. I have read some outstanding thrillers during the last year and what I loved about this one was the feeling of sparseness in the writing. Yet this is deceptive because it is in fact a complex and addictive read. Not layered with tons of twist and turns, you are sucked into the story by a rich and absorbing tale written with superb charactrisation. A literary thriller with the emphasis being on character and emotion, rather than reams of action. Of course there are twists and turns, this is first and foremost a thriller, but as the air shimmers in the landscape, those twists are much more low key,
My favourite part of the book was the rich variety of characters. From Russian Olagacs, to barmaids and creepy ‘drug dealers’ and many more. No one is who they initially seem to be and as a result I was forced to evaluate my thoughts as the story progressed, wrong footed by events as they unfurled within the novel. At the end, I realised I had misjudged them all and I felt haunted by their far from certain fates.
I was left haunted by both the story and the characters and fascinated by the way the writer uses art to try to explore the dreams of a tortured mind. I have not come across this before and it gave the novel a unique edge.
It is a story with elements of a thriller, mystery and an historical drama. As a reader the way the writer cleverly combined them into a story about murder and betrayal, delivered for me a read of the finest calabre.
It is without doubt a first class literary thriller with a cinematic quality to it, that delivers on every level.
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.