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The Golden Orphans

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  31 reviews
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. Bu
Kindle Edition, 155 pages
Published June 30th 2018 by Parthian Books (first published June 1st 2018)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  48 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, crime
The Golden Orphans really did take me by surprise. I kind of knew what to expect by looking at the cover and the blurb but I was quite wrong with my predictions. This is the winning formula!

The story takes place in Cyprus and the way the author has set the scene is glorious. The Cypriot lifestyle, the island’s history, the dodgy Russians, the abandoned city of Famagusta, the artistic element, how the conflicts that the characters deal with are instantly visible and palpable.

These guys you see
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
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 resid ...more
Yesha- Books Teacup and Reviews
You can read all my review on Blog - Books Teacup and Reviews

4.5 Stars

The Golden Orphans was literary mystery fiction that revolved around main character- a nameless British artist and how he got involve in mysterious dark secret when he attended funeral of his mentor and father figure successful artist, Francis Benthem. The book was about life crisis, secrets, finding the lost one, art and philosophy, and self-development.

From the blurb I guessed this was going to be more than the usual myster
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

A cracking little thriller that kept me entertained.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
At 155 pages, The Golden Orphans is a short novel, it’s dark, it’s fast-paced, it’s thrilling, it has this almost mystical quality to it that really lured me in! This novel opens with a funeral, and that was absolutely the right choice for this shorter novel, because it means the plot begins right away, there’s no wasted scene-setting. The scene-setting was achieved as the story was told – this novel is set in Cyprus, and Raymond used this location to create an atmospheric read, as the plot move ...more
Mairead Hearne (
“You are the painter?” he repeated. I nodded.

"Mr Prostakov wishes to extend you an invitation to his home…" he handed me a card from his jacket pocket; "…at noon tomorrow"

The Golden Orphans was a trip into the unknown for me, as I had absolutely no expectations before I opened the first page. I was unprepared for the literary style used by Gary Raymond, which I found extremely poetic, beautiful and quite intense.

The Golden Orphans tells the tale of an artist who has fallen on his luck. His r
Cathy Ryan
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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 employ ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very slim novel at just 155 pages, but my goodness it's one hell of a read. Probably a little out of my usual comfort zone, I admit that I was attract by the Cypriot setting. Once I'd read the first couple of pages, I was well and truly sucked in. It's intriguing and clever and keeps the reader firmly on their toes.

I spent many summers in Ayia Napa, Cyprus and I do love to read a book where I can recognise the setting. I was at the opening night of the Castle nightclub, oh so many moon
Donna Maguire

I thought that this book was very enjoyable!

This is a fairly short book at 155 pages but in those pages it really packs a punch and you get a well written, well developed story with some fascinating characters! The pace for the book is superb and I loved that it was a genuine page turner.

The plot is great, there is suspense, plot twists and so much more crammed within the pages, I read it in no time at all and loved every page!

4.5 stars from me for this on
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
I thought for a moment. “I think I am about to do something stupid.”

“In Cyprus you only need ask yourself one question,” Tara said, deadly serious. “Is it out of desperation?”

I keep running into artists in the novels I read -- like in Tom Rachman's The Italian Teacher, Russo's Bridge of Sighs, or even Hawley's Before the Fall -- there are other examples, I'm sure -- but they're not coming to me right now. I've never
Linda Hepworth
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“Until the Russian turned up with his entourage, I was the only person at the funeral, and I had come two and a half thousand miles to be there” ….. so begins this captivating story. The reflection comes from the never-named narrator of this haunting story, an artist who hasn’t sold a painting for more than four years, is in debt and whose relationship with his girlfriend, Clare, has become increasingly fraught because of this. When he receives news from a solicitor in Larnaca that he is a name
Steph Warren
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and to Emma Welton of damppebbles blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

The Golden Orphans is a short novel, but so packed with suspense and atmosphere that it feels like weighty literature.

Set in Cyprus, mainly in party town Ayia Napa but with a brief incursion into the abandoned ghost town of Famagusta, Gary Raymond has really captured the contradictions of experience inherent when a tourist trap also has a
David Harris
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm grateful to the publisher for a copy of this book to review as part of its blogtour.

Many years ago (the early 70s), when I was very young, my parents went off for a holiday in Cyprus. This was before the Turkish invasion of 1974, but not long before - they came back reporting hearing gunfire out in the countryside. It was close enough to the events that I can still remember my mother reacting to the news: "that's where we were!"

Forty years on, all that seems very remote - to me sitting here
Claire Huston
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short, sharp thriller which will keep you guessing. 4/5 stars.

This review was originally posted on my book blog.

It’s been ages since I read a book when I honestly had no idea what to expect next. This was the greatest pleasure in reading The Golden Orphans which will keep you guessing the whole way through possibly because it refuses to fit neatly in any one genre: it’s part mystery, part thriller, and almost a coming of age story, if a character can “come of age” as part of a midlife crisis!
Juliet Bookliterati
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
The Golden Orphans is set on the Island of Cyprus, but does not portray the sunny, fun holiday island you would expect but a much darker sinister view; drugs, secrets, lies and murder.  Told in the first person narrative, by a unknown narrator who goes to Cyprus to funeral of a friend and fellow artist Frances Bentham.  Frances was employed by Illy Prostakov to paint his dreams, and the cash strapped narrator follows in his friend's footsteps and falls into the sphere of the Russian and his very ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Originally posted at:

This book wasn't at all what I expected; I genuinely thought I was going to get a murder mystery whodunnit novel...oops.  What I did get was a dramatic, intense, darker tale set in one of the most beautiful locations.

Our unnamed narrator is an ordinary chap who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances; commissioned to paint dreams, mixing with Russian gangsters (I think) and all sorts of other unsavoury characters.  I didn't reall
J Fearnley
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it

The book opens with the narrator attending the funeral of his old tutor and friend Francis Benthem. Benthem had come to Cyprus some years before and they had lost touch over the years but he still regarded him as a father-figure, a mentor of his formative years as an artist. It was a curious funeral and our narrator, whose name we never learn, wonders about Benthems death and the life he lived in Cyprus. Who is Illy Prostakov and what was the work Benthem did for him?

Our narrator is curiou
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Four stars for a fast paced opening: a British artist receives a mysterious summons to an even more mysterious funeral in Cyprus. Many books and films start around an open grave, and this one’s all the better for it, drawing the reader straight into questions of who, what, why?
There’s a cast of sharply drawn characters: the Russian gangster (or is he?); the local miscreant Stelly, two beautiful young girls and the various barkeeps and drinkers of Ayia Napa. Our young artist has his own problems:
Kate A
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
This is the kind of book that gets under your skin from the start, it has a style of writing that invites you in and a slow tension that creeps up on you without you really noticing but I found that I was entranced easily and didn’t want to put it down.

The Golden Orphans doesn’t take its time, it’s a very slim book at just over 150 pages so you are thrust straight in to the story. The book opens at a funeral on Cyprus and there are plenty questions from the start, not the burning desperate kind
Bit of a relief to read a novella. There seems to be a fashion at the moment for novels to be padded out. As if readers need to be given more words so we think we're getting value for money.

This novella has a terrific sense of place, an interesting premise and some sharp writing. Raymond nails the thing about writing an opening line that grabs you, and the whole first chapter is great.

I would have liked the plot to have enabled the Famagusta episode to have been more fully explored. How do you
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was recommended this book and it didn't disappoint me. Cyprus is a place that holds many fascinations and this book delves into the deep divisions that haunt the country and those that live there today.

Gary Raymond has a way of writing that draws the reader instantly into the deep and complex relationships between the characters. Each relationship is unique, each character is complex and many layered. The mystery that the reader finds themselves insidiously embroiled in is enriched even more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I honestly had no clue where this was heading, I kept expecting it to go one way and it just never did. The story kept me on my toes, guessing what was really happening. Who were these people? What was happening? Even finishing the story, I never felt like all my questions had been answered. I was left in a kind of daze, thinking what did I just read? In a good way.

With it being so twisty and not following the path you would think, it kept it interesting. It kept you hooked, you wanted/needed to
Dan Coxon
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this smart, well-written literary thriller from Gary Raymond. There were traces of John Fowles, but it was entirely its own beast. Reading it in Cyprus, I found he summoned the atmosphere of the place perfectly, and wove a wonderfully strange tale in between the bars and beaches. One note: the publisher could have done with proofreading it a little better! A fair few typos and inconsistencies, but the story itself is solid.
Rosie Amber
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Golden Orphans is a mystery set on Cyprus. It opens with the funeral of Francis Benthem. The one mourner is an English artist, former student and friend of the deceased.

Illy Prostakov has a recurring dream that he wants painting. He generously offers to pay off all the artist’s current debts if he’ll stay and paint, but can this Russian be trusted? See here for full review
Megan Thomas
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A literary thriller based in Cyprus, with all the weight of a full blown novel in a short and poignant little novel. Strange goings-on, an existentially plagued artist, dodgy Russian dealings and a beautiful world of luxury, The Golden Orphans continuously propels excitement from its pages in a quick and entertaining way.
Bucks, Books & Beyond
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author has created a really interesting concept with ‘the Golden Orphans’ and has woven this all together rather nicely for what was a really enjoyable read. It’s a fairly short book and I finished it within a day but it definitely left its mark. There’s a lot of action crammed into these few pages.
Cath Barton
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this - great shades of Graham Greene. Good book for a summer afternoon in the garden. Well paced.
Bethan H
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A bizarre short story but a real page turner
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved the detailed atmospheric description in this book, and the sense that nothing is quite what it seems, with a shocking revelation at the end. See my full review here - ...more
Rubina Gomes
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was a short read but not a quick one. This book draws you in and makes you witness the story as it unfolds. The story is so much more intriguing than what the blurb provides. I loved the atmosphere the author created through his writing. There was a constant feel of uneasiness present not only in the setting of Cyprus but also in the characters involved in the story. Every character had a sense of mystery to them. Never for one moment I could know who’s on the right side. Since this is ...more
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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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