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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

‘Glint Of Light On Broken Glass’ by Jason Monaghan

Published by Matador,
28 May 2016. 
ISBN: 978-1785891946 (PB)

Georges chipped his glasses the first time he wore them. Ever since then, he’s been followed by a beautiful girl who can foretell tragedy – and in the harsh lives of Guernsey peasant-farmers in the early twentieth century, with war looming over Europe, tragedy is never far from him.

Under his pen name of Jason Foss, Monaghan has written four crime thrillers starring his archaeologist detective, Jeffrey Flint. This novel blends Monaghan’s love of his island with his knowledge of its history, and the result is breath-takingly vivid: imagined characters moving and breathing in the reality of their time. The focus is on a triangle between two brothers, tall, strong Artie Bazin and his handicapped, gentle brother, Georges, and the girl they both love, independent Edith Mullane. Edith is determined to escape the fate of her mother, abandoned by her Irish husband to seek comfort in ‘uncles’ who might support them. Her beautiful face is her fortune, and she wants to use it to escape the close confines of island life. Georges loves her quietly, Artie boldly; when war comes, Georges is refused active service while Artie is, at first, an objector. The third-person narration moves from head to head, showing Georges’ calmness and introspection, Edith’s frustration, Artie’s determination, and later moves from the wartime changes in Guernsey to the horrors of Cambrai, where a generation of Guernsey men were lost. The novel gives a real feel of the harshness of life in the pre-war age, made richer by the use of the Guernsey patois – this is one of these rare books with its own atmosphere, which lingers in the head. As war begins, then you know the events described are real happenings, giving poignancy to the story of the characters. I was drawn into the lives of the characters, and found the ending both realistic and satisfying. It felt like the start of a family saga, in the best possible sense; I hope Monaghan’s going to follow this world and these people into the next generation.

A richly-textured novel which blends the realities of war for the Guernsey people with believable, tragic characters. Highly recommended.
Rviewer: Marsali Taylor

Jason Monaghan  born 1959 in Yorkshire is a novelist and Roman archaeologist. He has also at times been a financial regulator, an anti-money laundering specialist and a bank director. The eccentric side of Archaeology provided the background to his first five novels written under the pen-name of Jason Foss, and he is an active member of the Crime Writers Association. Glint of Light on Broken Glass is his first historical novel. Major projects he has worked on include Britain's most intact Roman ship (from Guernsey), and possibly the only known English Elizabethan shipwreck (off Alderney). His PhD thesis was on the Roman Pottery of Kent and he later published research on pottery from the Roman fortress of York. Each summer since 2009 he has led a group of friends excavating in Alderney, investigating what looks to be Britains finest small Roman fort. He lives in Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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