SPECTRES IN THE SMOKE
One of the best Spy Novels of 2006
It's the austere 1948 world of post-war, black-market-riddled England and Jethro, the cat burglar and jewel thief, has been pushed out onto the rooftops of London again by Colonel Walsingham of MI5.
And so forced once again to step out from behind his disguise as a part-time stage-hand in London's West End, Jethro does a creep in Mayfair that sets in motion a tale of dark and deadly dealings that mixes national politics with black magic, orgies of abandon, and blackmail.
Things get even deadlier when he stumbles across a Royal cover-up and then uncovers a plot to topple Clement Attlee's Labour Government.
And always ever present, looming in the background, are the twin spectres of the growing Communist menace and a rebirth of Fascism. There are even rumours the Americans are poking their noses deep into things and that a mysterious OSS agent is roaming around London with his eagle eye set on someone that looks a lot like Jethro.
To top it all, Walsingham comes up with a plan"in Defence of the Realm"that calls for Jethro to steal his way into the very heart of English aristocratic circles.
However, Walsingham's behind-the-scenes string pulling also has unintended consequences in London's gangland that result in Jethro finding himself up to his neck again in the never-ending battle between two of London's most notorious gang bosses, Darby Messima and Jack Spot.
And all this is just a precursor to Jethro having to do a very serious bit of burglary at a certain very grand country house, the success or failure of which could mean England saved from going to the dogs or spell curtains for Jethro.
In Spectres In the Smoke, Tony Broadbent has created a dark, shadowy vision of post-war London and has spun a truly enthralling tale.
Read the prologue and chapter one.
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SPECTRES IN THE SMOKE
MP Publishing, July 2012
...the second entry in this series starring a London cat burglar is every bit as tense and fascinating as its predecessor... Broadbent's physical descriptions of Londoners crawling out from the ruins are vivid and powerful, as when he likens a street to a mouth with missing teeth. He is also instructive, without being overbearing, on the political and social history of the times. But what will make readers clutch their books a little tighter are the cat burglar's accounts of hanging from ropes outside of homes, dropping in, allowing all his senses to scan the area, and, when trouble looms, pulling off his gravity- and death-defying escapes... Terrific details on the cat burglary and embattled London, liberally laced with Jethro's sardonic wit.
Booklist (starred review)
Vintage atmosphere, great writing, perfect story ...nails the period better than I have ever seen it done before.
Broadbent honorswith understated admiration and moments of high-quality local humorthe spirit of London's (postwar) inhabitants. Cary Grant could have played Jethro perfectly.
Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune
As cheeky and endearing as ever, Jethro"a gifted irregular" in the words of MI5gets the job done with the same aplomb he demonstrated in his first caper, The Smoke...
Tom and Enid Schantz, The Denver Post
As thrillers get bigger I keep moving back towards a smaller stage where I can actually believe the peril(s) facing the protagonist. British Broadbent's wonderfully imagined cat burglarremember the immortal To Catch a Thief?Jethro returns in Spectres in the Smoke...
Barbara Peters, Poisoned Pen
In Spectres in The Smoke, Tony Broadbent well and truly claims post-war London as his manor. With a view from the rooftops through the eyes of Jethro the cat-burglara most likeable rogue if ever there was onewe are steeped in the characters, color and history that followed Britain's finest hour. Spectres in The Smoke is a page-turner that takes us from the inner sanctum of Britain's Secret Service to underworld territories run by the kings of crime. With royalty gone bad along with the communists and facists for good measure, it's a broth of intrigue that you will not put down until the last page. I loved every minute of it!
Fans of Tony Broadbent's memorable debut, The Smoke, will be delighted to find his (not quite) reformed cat burglar hero back in action and in trouble up to his Cockney ears on the colorful streets of post-war London. If you enjoy the adventures of Raffles, The Saint and Richard Hannay, this is for you.