The Big Thrill Discusses BLACKSHIRT CONSPIRACY with Jason Monaghan
In 1936, Britain is facing a political and constitutional crisis. The fascist British Union are edging towards power, the king’s American mistress threatens to destabilise the monarchy, and secretive forces are manipulating events for their own ends.
Hugh Clifton is trapped in his role as an MI5 informer within the fascist headquarters, taking over Room Z and recruiting his lover Sissy as one of his agents. Investigating a simple burglary, they uncover murder and a rapidly spiraling web of intrigue. The Agents of Room Z race to unravel competing conspiracies that entangle the government, the church, and the king in a deadly struggle for the very future of the country.
Jason Monaghan recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest historical thriller, BLACKSHIRT CONSPIRACY.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
I was looking for the weak point in British 1930s history that offered British fascists the best opportunity to make a bid for power, bringing Britain under the heel of a dictatorship as seen in Germany, Italy, and Spain in the same period.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
This was the story I wanted to write when researching a thriller about the Blackshirts. It has come second in the series as I realised I needed to write a ‘prequel’ first to explain how my lead characters came to be working as fascist agents.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
Len Deighton’s SS-GB for inspiration, Andrew Lownie’s Traitor King for justification and a shelf full of books including The King Who had to Go for hard research.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
A good man working under a corrupting regime. Many excellent books set their characters operating under the shadow of the Nazis including Luke McCallin, Philip Kerr, and Robert Harris.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
Realisation that history could easily have been so very different. That democracy and freedom are fragile, and the simplistic appeal of populism can lead to dictatorship and repression.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
The third book in the series takes Hugh and the characters who survive the twists at the end of the book into 1937 and deeper danger. I’m also looking at a refreshed series of archaeology thrillers in addition to working on a ‘popular’ book about the discovery of a Roman shipwreck.
Jason Monaghan trained as an archaeologist but his career has featured twists including working in the prevention of money laundering, raising shipwrecks and being the director of a museum. His background inspired five archaeology-detective novels and his love of history led him to create the new Agents of Room Z series. He now lives in Yorkshire, UK.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.
Blackshirt Conspiracy with Jason Monaghan