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.
About 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…
The narrator is a young artist, who has been invited to the funeral of his old mentor Francis. What begins as a goodbye to an old friend quickly becomes like something out of a bizarre parallel universe, where Rapunzel is replaced by a less than willing tower dweller.
Raymond writes with the skill of an old master. He creates this unusual atmosphere which has nothing to do with the surroundings per se and everything to do with the characters. He incorporates the complex and volatile history of Cyprus with the simmering unease of the present day situation.
The characters are strong and memorable, and yet simultaneously remain elusive and shallow. As a reader you think the author is about to reveal more about them, and bang a door closes in your face.
I was intrigued by the relationship between Illy, his painters and the paintings he craves. It made me wonder whether his request is physically possible or if it is something akin to chasing the Holy Grail.
Although this is a literary thriller I think this also had the potential to simply be a literary piece of fiction. The whole spiel between Illy, Francis, the narrator, and the painting would have made for a spectacular and fascinating read. It didn’t need the added layer of a thriller.
There is something about Raymond’s writing that will definitely have me looking out for more. He weaves and it flows with such a natural ease, it’s as if an old friend has invited you in for a comfortable chinwag and decides to confront you with an unexpected proposition.
It’s a mixture of literary hobnobbery and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Russian gangster vibe. What’s not to like?
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Published by Parthian Books on 30th June 2018