A Prison in the Sun: A Fuerteventura Mystery (Canary Islands Mysteries #3) by Isobel Blackthorn
After millennial ghost-writer 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.
The blurb of this book really drew me in – a tourist finding a rucksack full of cash and no idea who it could belong to….
Our protagonist, Trevor Moore, is a ghost-writer who has rented a farmhouse in Fuerteventura for the summer as a hideout whilst he writes his own book. One day at the beach, Trevor decides to explore some nearby caves where he stumbles on a forgotten backpack. He takes the backpack back to the beach and attempts to find its owner. When he doesn’t have any luck with this, he takes it home with him. Trevor is sceptical of this bag, but he can’t help himself and looks inside it where he finds an enormous amount of cash hidden at the bottom. Trevor hides the bag and forgets about it, until a young man’s body is found washed up on a beach. Trevor puts two and two together and decides that the backpack must belong to this young man. So, he has another look inside and this time finds small pieces of paper tucked inside each of the bundles of cash. Trevor fishes them out, realises they’re in Spanish and sets about translating them, with the help of Google Translate.
This leads Trevor to unearthing a huge part of the Island’s history that appears to have purposely been buried – a labour camp which incarcerated gay men. As Trevor pushes on with translating and uncovering the awful truth of what happened to these men at the camp, he struggles with his own sexuality. The novel ends with Trevor’s decision on what he’ll do with the money, should he leave the island with the money, should he give it to the police, or should he hide the backpack and forget this all happened? Trevor’s story ends on a cliff hanger and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Trevor, the story he’s written and his big stack of cash.
I enjoyed this novel because I felt like I really got to know Trevor Moore. He’s quintessentially British and does a fantastic impression of the classic clueless Brit on holiday – getting a terrible sunburn on the first day, walking around the desert landscape at the hottest points of the day. The first half of the book really sets the scene for you, you get to know who Trevor is now, who he has been in the past and who he’s hoping to be in the future. This description heavy part of the novel is needed as it introduces you to all aspects of Trevor, which helps you to identify with him more. Blackthorn takes you under Trevor’s skin, past the superficial parts of his character and into the nitty-gritty aspects of his life. You get to know a lot about Trevor’s sexuality in the past and how he currently feels, I think getting to know Trevor and his sexual identity so intimately helps you to understand why the story he uncovers at the concentration camp affects him so much. You start to understand why the harrowing story of these young gay men touches a particular nerve with Trevor.
From the very first page, it’s clear that Isobel Blackthorn is a gifted writer. Her descriptions of the barren landscape of the Canary Islands are so vivid you feel as though you’re there, and if you’ve ever been there on holiday you know that her descriptions are spot on. In A Prison in the Sun, Blackthorn has intertwined fiction with history, and she’s got the right amount of both. You don’t feel overwhelmed by the historical parts of the novel, the snapshots into the lives of the men at the prison camp give you a brief glimpse into their world and leave you curious to know what happened to them. The fictional aspect of the novel is believable and the characters that Blackthorn has created are unique. She’s created a mystery, that you solve with Trevor. You find out key information as he does, and you come to the same realisations as him. You and Trevor become a sort of team, working together to figure out where this money has come from and why it was hidden, along with the story, in a cave on the beach.
By the end of the novel, I was gripped, and I can’t wait for the next in the series to find out what happened to Trevor and his big bag of money.
I reviewed this book as part of #damppebblesblogtours @damppebbles
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning author, Isobel Blackthorn, is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including gripping mysteries and dark psychological thrillers. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019.
Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism from the University of Western Sydney for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey's life and works has culminated in the biographical novel The Unlikely Occultist and the full biography Alice A. Bailey: Life and Legacy. Isobel carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain, her former home. Four of her novels are set on the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. These standalone novels are setting rich and fall into the broad genre of travel fiction. Isobel has led a rich and interesting life and her stories are as diverse as her experiences, the highs and lows, and the dramas. A life-long campaigner for social justice, Isobel has written, protested and leant her weight to a range of issues including asylum seekers and family violence. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives in Queensland, Australia.
Published in paperback, audio and digital formats by Next Chapter Publishing on 19th November 2019