Blog Tour/Book Review: The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond

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I’m delighted to hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond along with my tour buddies, Gordon at Grab This Book and Donna at Donna’s Book Blog.  Thanks to Emma at damppebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part in the tour.  Described as offering ‘a new twist on the literary thriller’, you can read my review of The Golden Orphans below.

Check out the banner at the bottom of this post to follow the tour every day between now and 4th November.  You’ll find reviews, book extracts and other content.  In case you missed day one of the tour, you can catch up on the posts here:

Review of The Golden Orphans by Rubina Reads
Extract from The Golden Orphans hosted by The Quiet Knitter

The Golden OrphansAbout 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…

Format: Paperback, ebook (155 pp.)    Publisher: Parthian Books
Published: 30th June 2018 Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Purchase Links*
Publisher | ǀ ǀ Waterstones | (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Golden Orphans on Goodreads

My Review

The atmospheric opening of The Golden Orphans sees our unnamed narrator arrive in Cyprus for the funeral of his friend, fellow artist and mentor, Francis Benthem.  Initially it appears he is to be the only mourner but the arrival of four other people at the graveside is just the first sign there will be mysteries aplenty to unravel.   One of the mourners is enigmatic Russian, Illy Prostakov, Francis Benthem’s former employer.  Illy subsequently summons our narrator to the remote villa where he resides in order to reveal the unusual nature of his ‘inheritance’ from Francis.

Contrary to what the reader might expect from the book blurb, Francis Benthem plays a peripheral role in the story.  The reader comes to knows Francis – what he thought, said or might have done – only through the accounts of others, principally the book’s narrator.

In a way, what fills the gap created by Francis’s absence is the island of Cyprus itself.  The author has chosen to use its troubled history since partition to expose a side of the island that is darker than a person who knows it only as a holiday destination would probably recognise.   There’s an air of mystery, unreality and artificiality in the way it is depicted with secrets hidden under the surface and people pretending things are normal when they’re not.  As one character says, ‘… this is a crazy island. What you see is more than you can possibly understand, and you don’t see the half of it.’   The Cyprus the reader experiences in the book is a temporary refuge for misfits and for those seeking escape.  As the narrator describes it, it’s ‘an island of shipwrecked souls.’

The reader is a good way through the book before the meaning of its title is revealed.  Similarly, the ‘abandoned city’ referred to in the blurb features only towards the end of the book.  For me, there were a few loose ends and some plot lines and scenes that seemed to belong in a more conventional thriller.   However, the author’s crowning achievement in The Golden Orphans is creating such an unsettling, noir-ish, dreamlike (at times, more nightmare-like) atmosphere.

The Golden Orphans is a taut, intense read.  For a relatively short book, it packs a big punch.   I received a review copy courtesy of damppebbles blog tours.

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In three words: Atmospheric, dark, unsettling

Try something similar…The Executioner Weeps by Frédéric Dard (read my review here)

gary raymond author photoAbout the Author

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review, and has been editor since 2014. 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 is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’ The Review Show.

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