I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Golden Orphans, courtesy of Emma at damppebbles. Before my review, here’s the book info.
Published by Parthian Books on 30th June 2018
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.
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A down on his luck English artist has traveled to Cyprus for the funeral of his old friend and mentor, Francis Bentham. He had no idea Bentham had been living in Cyprus and wondered who had invited him. It seems he is the only mourner, apart from the priest, until the mysterious and obviously wealthy Russian, Illarion (or Illie as he likes to be called) Prostakov arrives with his entourage. The narrator discovers Prostakov was Bentham’s employer and has paid for the funeral. Prostakov had employed Bentham for the sole purpose of interpreting his recurring dream on canvas, which he hoped would lead him to a revelation from his past that has tormented him for years.
Unusually, the narrator is nameless. He has money and personal problems at home, so has no wish to rush back to debts and a failing relationship. An invitation from Prostakov to take over where Bentham left off would solve his money issues at least. Despite not being sure it’s as simple as it appears, he accepts the offer and is ensconced in a converted water tower situated in Prostakov’s estate. The cast of characters all have an air of mystery about them and not all are as they seem, especially those who frequent the ominous and quite menacing underbelly of Ayia Napa. Cyprus is a character in its own right and a large part of the story.
There’s an underlying sense of apprehension present from the start as the author creates an unnerving, and sometimes dark but atmospheric narrative, not least because of the people who the narrator comes into contact with—he describes them as ‘shipwrecked souls’—but also because of the division of the island which occurred during the Turkish invasion in the 1970s. This plays into the plot eventually and takes the narrator to the abandoned, war-torn Famagusta for the climax of the story. In complete contrast to Ayia Napa, there is only desolation and decay in this once thriving area of Cyprus.
Famagusta rose from the scrub like a giant carcass, the whitewashed bones of abandoned buildings rutting up into the skyline, each crawled over with linden and the charcoal-grey branches of barren poplars.