- Book: The Getaway
- Location: Aegean Sea
- Author: Ross Armstrong
This is a peek into the lives of the ridiculously rich. A cohort of family and hangers-on sets off for the Rathwell’s private island – Korpios, not far from Lesvos – flying in on private jet, helicopter, arriving by luxury yacht.
The author has clearly got inspired and melded elements from elsewhere, with nods to gilded lives lived on screen and in real life: Succession aficionados will recognise elements, Korpios is clearly a knock-off of Scorpios, the private island owned by the über-wealthy shipping family; and Robert and Sophia’s young son is called JR (hello the Ewings of Dallas). Robert Rathwell is also surely inspired somewhere along the line by a certain disgraced billionaire, both are equally mercurial and nasty.
That sets the scene. The book opens well as we are introduced to Isabelle, who is Robert’s “Lifestyle Assistant” (who doesn’t need one of those, eh?). She panders to Robert’s – virtually – every need, ensuring the drinks arrive on time, his pills are suitably popped and that he wants for nothing. He is pretty ill, mentally at times quite disengaged, and physically unwell. There are two further helpers – Amelia and Ben (an actor, who is coming in to play the part of surrogate dad in an effort to give young JR a father figure of fun, youth, games and connection before he is packed off to boarding school); then there is a family bodyguard, Kostas, and a young reprobate family member, Bobby, who just appears. The scene is set.
There are only landlines on the island, ensuring absolute privacy and time off the world for the people getting into the groove of life on this glorious island. Not so glorious, however, after a murder occurs. Amelia and Ben begin to understand that any ills that occur on the island may well be pinned on them, they are the scapegoats of the family (that’s what rich people do, apparently); so they are on high alert early from very early on. A killing spree ensues and of course the who and why keep the novel bowling along.
The novel opens very competently and continues in fine form until the author has several deaths under his belt. As the inevitable storm approaches (a requirement for a ‘locked island mystery’ it seems), providing a thunderous backdrop that ushers in the denouement, the story degenerates into a bit of a tangle of storytelling – secrets are revealed and lives appear awash with back stories. The clarity in the opening chapters gets lost in a convoluted unravelling of what has happened over the brief time these people have been together. None of the characters are likeable, they are at times under-developed, so the thing the reader holds onto is how it will all end. Good writing overall.