Tuesday, November 24

Shattered - Dick Francis

Gerald Logan is a master glass blower whose pieces are already receiving acclaim. His studio, where he creates work and trains up three young apprentices, is open to the public, and in the hours leading up to the eve of the new millennium he's busy creating commissioned commemorative creations (sorry). Gerald takes a break to watch his good friend Martin, a jockey, ride in the Cheltenham races, and is devastated when, due to a freak fall, Martin is killed on the course. Devastated, he barely notices when he's given a brown paper-wrapped video cassette that Martin had handed over before the race. Later that night, though, his studio is robbed of the night's large takings, ransacked, and the owner of Martin's horse is assaulted; the next day his house and that of Martin's widow and children is also turned over, with every video tape taken.
Although I didn't enjoy this quite as much as Longshot, my first Francis encounter, Shattered shares many of its elements - a strong, interesting protagonist with unique skills who is something of an outsider to the racing world he becomes involved in. Like Longshot, it's a pacy, interesting novel that incorporates technical detail - on both racing and glass blowing fronts - seamlessly into the wider tapestry of the plot, and has the added bonus of a romantic sub-plot. I baulked at the use, twice, of "cul de sacs" instead of culs de sac, and found the plot a little overly complicated, but otherwise thoroughly enjoyed the Francis experience. - Alex

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