Spectres in the Smoke

( 1 )

Overview

It's the austere 1948 world of post-war, black-maket-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 stagehand in London's West End, Jethro does a creep in Mayfair and sets in motion a tale of dark and deadly dealings that mixes national politics with black magice, orgies...

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Spectres in the Smoke

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Overview

It's the austere 1948 world of post-war, black-maket-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 stagehand in London's West End, Jethro does a creep in Mayfair and sets in motion a tale of dark and deadly dealings that mixes national politics with black magice, 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 rumors 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 who 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 aristocratic English circles.

However, Walsingham's behind-the-scenes string pulling also has unitended 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 Messina 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 spun a truly enthralling tale.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
One of the best Spy Novels of 2006.
Booklist (starred review)
...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.
Lee Child
Vintage atmosphere, great writing, perfect story ...nails the period better than I have ever seen it done before.
Chicago Tribune Dick Adler
Broadbent honors—with understated admiration and moments of high-quality local humor—the spirit of London's (postwar) inhabitants. Cary Grant could have played Jethro perfectly.
The Denver Post Tom and Enid Schantz
As cheeky and endearing as ever, Jethro—"a gifted irregular" in the words of MI5—gets the job done with the same aplomb he demonstrated in his first caper, The Smoke...
Poisoned Pen Barbara Peters
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 burglar—remember the immortal To Catch a Thief?—Jethro returns in Spectres in the Smoke...
Jacqueline Winspear
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-burglar—a most likeable rogue if ever there was one—we 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!
Otto Penzler
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.
Publishers Weekly
As in Broadbent's first post-WWII British spy caper to feature cat burglar Jethro, The Smoke (2002), his second lighthearted thriller finds British intelligence enlisting Jethro's criminal expertise in the national interest. To thwart a resurgence of fascism just a few years after the Nazis' defeat, the thief must recover some compromising records that implicate a member of the royal family in a right-wing conspiracy. Complicating Jethro's efforts to serve his handlers is a gangland war that threatens those dearest to him. Unfortunately, the author fails to match his engaging, roguish hero with a suitable plot. Despite the fast-paced action and diverting appearances by David Niven and Ian Fleming, the last-minute, hairbreadth rescues (including one of an attractive woman apparently intended as a sacrifice) strain credulity and diminish the impact of the political issues raised. Agent, Jill Grosjean. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In post-war Smoke (street slang for London), a certain world-class creeper (cat burglar) would like to get unbent (go straight), only there's MI5 threatening GBH (grievous bodily harm). It's been three years since the end of hostilities, but young Jethro, that nonpareil among thieves, is still painfully engaged in his unequal struggle with Colonel William Walsingham. The boss of MI5 has stuff on Jethro that can land him in lock-up, where his elegant form will be subjected to the usual unspeakable indignities. Which means that when Walsingham says jump, Jethro says which roof and what exactly am I expected to steal for king and country. This time it's a master file, detailing the membership of a secret organization engaged in fomenting political unrest. The New Order of Britain party won't use the word, but Fascism is "what oozes out of every pore." Sharing (understandably) MI5's dim view of the NOB is another shadowy organization, the clandestine Cabal-vigilant, militant, Jewish. The Cabal, too, wants that tell-tale master file, and, like MI5, it knows just the right "cat" to tap. So there's Jethro, high-pressured by both to take on the same larcenous gig. For the sake of efficiency and the greater good, you'd think one might consider backing off. Oh, really? How's-yer-father (street slang for "no way"). Though Jethro continues to charm, some loose plotting keeps this from measuring up to his swift and sparkling debut (Smoke, 2002).
From the Publisher
Praise for Spectres in the Smoke

"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-burglar—-a most likeable rogue if ever there was one—-we 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 fascists 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!"

—-Jacqueline Winspear, author of Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, and Pardonable Lies

"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."

—-Otto Penzler

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781849821537
  • Publisher: MP Publishing Ltd
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 788,246
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Broadbent was born in Windsor, England, at the edge of "the Smoke," but now lives in Mill Valley, California, at the edge of "Fog City"—-otherwise known as San Francisco. He can be found most nights hard at work setting up another caper for Jethro, the cat burglar and jewel thief.

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Table of Contents

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