Cynthia, a sixty year old widow with a thirty-eight year old Nigerian lover becomes a 'silver surfer' when he returns to his homeland.
An e-mail scam forces her to follow in his footsteps to try and find him and her money, but her mission is thwarted when she is kidnapped with the crass and vulgar Tracey.
A hilarious adventure begins...
Dear Beneficiary was published by Cutting Edge Press on 19 March, and is Janet Kelly's first novel.
There can't be many of us who haven't received one of those emails, you know the one that starts with 'Dear Beneficiary', and goes on to inform us that we are due to inherit a small fortune from our long-lost great Uncle Cedric, who recently died in Nigeria. All we have to do is kindly send over the details of our bank account, and our new found wealth will magically appear in our bank accounts.
Yeah, right! That's what most of us will think as we hit the delete button, yet again. Not Cynthia though. Cynthia has recently entered the world of the interweb with the help of her grandson Tom, she's also recently had a torrid affair with a much younger and very enthusiastic Nigerian bloke called Darius. Darius had to return home to help out with his ailing mother, and Cynthia is desperate to see him again. She's pretty desperate altogether really as Darius showed her things, and awakened parts of her body that her poor dead husband Colin who she slept with for forty years never once found!
Cynthia would rather not talk to her children about Darius and is tired of her bank manager's concerns about suspicious transactions on her account. The only thing for it is to travel to Nigeria herself, to make sure that Darius is OK, and to await her good fortune.
Once in Nigeria, Cynthia and her unlikely travel companion Tracey find themselves caught up in the world of scammers. Tracey, like Cynthia, has travelled to Africa because of a man, and that is all they have in common. Bleached blonde hair, nail extensions and faked tanned; Tracey is unlike anyone that Cynthia has ever had to speak to before. So far away from the world of Bridge Clubs and Waitrose, and oh so common. Despite this, they become room mates, but not by choice.
Janet Kelly writes cleverly, her story is witty and touching, and her characters ooze exuberance and cheer, despite finding themselves in a situation that would scare the pants off most women. Cynthia is a terrible snob, she looks down on most people and whilst her honesty is funny and quite touching, it's clear that it's more of a cross between stupidity and ignorance, rather than a belief in speaking her own mind. It is their combined low intelligence and gullibility that allows Cynthia and Tracey to survive their ordeal intact. Both of them are great manipulators, they have some awareness of their ability to beguile their captors and make good use of these.
Dear Beneficiary is more than just a comedic story of two aging women who are trying to find happiness. It is more than a tale of innocence combined with hope. There is insight into the world of the Nigerian scammers and looks at why they choose to do what they do. There is a hint of darkness mixed in with the comedy, a little tease of violence and power and a feeling of helplessness from members of the scamming gang.
I snorted with laughter at times whilst reading Dear Beneficiary, in a most unladylike way; Cynthia would not have been impressed by me, although I suspect that Tracey would have joined me!
Dear Beneficiary is a warm and touching story, it has a real heart, with characters who have been so beautifully crafted that they jump from the pages and appear as real as your friends. I have such admiration for Janet Kelly, this debut is an absolute joy to read, a fabulous achievement.
Once again, I have to heap praise on the wonderful team at Cutting Edge Press who sent my copy for review. CEP may be small, but by God, they are perfectly formed indeed!
Janet Kelly has been a journalist all her working life and lives in Surrey with her husband, dog and six cats. She is mother to two grown up daughters, Becci and Rachel.
As owner of Free Features, a media services agency providing content to print and web publications in the UK, Janet has attracted recognition for her business acumen, including being a finalist in the European Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 2007, the HSBC Start-Up Awards 2007 and being highly commended in the Credit Suisse Entrepreneur of the Year awards 2006.
She has always taken a keen interest in creative writing and apart from her journalistic work - which included working for many regional and national newspapers and BBC Radio 4 - has written a number of scripts, poetry and short stories. Dear Beneficiary is her first novel and was started at a writing course in Spain run by Graham Carlisle - former writer for Coronation Street and Emmerdale - and completed thanks to help initially from writer and agent James Essinger and good friend 'Curly' Sue Matthews, and then Paul Swallow her editor.
It publishes on March 19th 2015 through Cutting Edge Press - a deal executed by Janet's agent David Headley of the David Headley Literary Agency in Cecil Court, London.
Janet's interests other than writing include cooking, golf, reading, travel and playing saxophone with the all female big band, The Fabulous Honeys. She has been a school governor and magistrate and enjoys being the maverick in all authoritarian organisations.
She gave up running marathons after her toenails came off half way through the London race -and has resigned herself to never being the type of person who gets up on a Sunday morning to go for ten mile jog.
Her inspiration for writing comes from an enjoyment of watching and understanding people, underlined by her qualifications as a Neuro Linguistic Programme (NLP) practitioner.
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