Book Review: The Destroyers

A modern literary thriller in the vein of Patricia Highsmith and Graham Greene with a hint of Bret Easton Ellis nihilism, Christopher Bollen’s latest novel The Destroyers explores rich, privileged Americans seemingly playing it up in Europe as darkness lurks.

Protagonist Ian Bledsoe is in trouble. Cut off from his family inheritance, he makes a dash for the Greek Islands and steals $9000 from his late father’s account, to reunite with his childhood friend Charlie, scion of a construction dynasty. Ian wants to lean on his friend for help, as Charlie is ostensibly living the ideal Greek Islands life on Patmos; a Mediterranean paradise untouched by hideous resorts and immune to the dreaded tourist route.

But Patmos is a strange island. It is the place where St John wrote the Book of Revelation and many make the pilgrimage to the cave where he supposedly wrote those words of doom. The island is run by a monastery whose leader appears more gangster than holy and scattered among the locals and rich summer inhabitants is a commune of hippies, although these hippies aren’t what they seem. They are here to welcome the apocalypse.

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Ian enters Charlie’s island world to work as his number two at his yacht business. He hangs with Charlie’s friends, including girlfriend Sonny, a former Hollywood actress, while Ian’s old college girlfriend is a surprise guest. At first, Ian is happy to be away from the pressures of home to drink and sunbathe the days away. But his past catches up with him as his New York step-siblings enquire about the missing money and another incident, which can be found thanks to a quick Google search, means he can never quite escape what came before, even though he i s living in paradise.

More pressing is Charlie. Like Harry Lime, there is a si nister side to Ian’s old friend. Though Ian isn’t the most captivating character, you can see why he would fall for the charms of his charismatic friend as Charlie’s promise of paradise becomes a living hell.

The Destroyers is a smart contemporary update of classic thrillers from Greene and Highsmith, as modern issues such as the refugee crisis, drug trafficking and social media exacerbate Ian’s troubles in this murky world.

Author: Christopher Bollen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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