Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.
About the book
After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse. Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it? Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.
A man on trip to find himself and his muse. Trevor is intrigued by his surroundings at first even if they are bleak and dusty, but is appalled when he finds the bedroom window of his holiday dwelling would have had a first hand view of the unlawfully detained prisoners at work in the stony desolate earth. He is reluctant to embrace it as an inspiration, because of what he has been through with his ex-wife.
Built in a stony desert, on the wasteland of an abandoned old airport, without water or the basic minimum conditions needed to sustain life – the remains of the Agricultural Penitentiary Colony of Tefia, which is on the island of Fuerteventura, stand. It is a symbol of the brutality of the Franco regime, one I am sure many of the descendants of those in charge still try to gloss over or deny, as they do with the majority of the atrocities committed during the Franco regime.
Dozens of men were beaten, humiliated and forced to work hard labour for years. Why? Because Franco believed a regime of hard and healthy work would cure them of their sexual preferences. Arrested under a law that liberally encompassed everything from troublemakers, pimps and vagrants – they were condemned and punished for their homosexuality.
Trevor is still struggling with the fact his ex-wife is living with a woman, which is quite a bizarre obstruction to his writing, because he himself appears to struggle with attraction to the same gender. So it’s fair to say confronting one would actually mean confronting oneself, which he is reluctant to do.
Whilst searching for a muse or some sort of inspiration he accidentally, as only an overweight middle-aged white guy on holiday abroad can do, stumbles upon a rucksack that contains something valuable and something unique and irreplaceable.
I’m glad Blackthorn worked this into the plot, because although I am aware of many of the atrocities during this period I wasn’t aware of the prison on Tefia. Kudos to her for that. Once again the author works her trademark talent for describing the surroundings into the story.
It’s urban crime, well perhaps rural crime which delves into history and more importantly crimes against the homosexual community. As always a story that delivers more.