Monday, May 1

The Smoke by Tony Broadbent

Review by Andrea Maloney

Jethro is a cat burglar and jewel thief in 1947 postwar England. He has told everyone he has gone straight and is now working as a stagehand in London's many theaters and music halls.  But in reality he is still committing capers against the wealthy in Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Belgravia.  The top villains in London don't believe he has gone straight and neither does Messima the local crime boss.  And each at one time or another want him to do a little job for him. He finds himself in a tight corner after he burglars the embassy of a Soviet satellite country taking the Ambassador's wife's and daughter's jewels. For he then finds himself under the scrutiny of MI5 when even they ask him to burgle for him and if he doesn't things could go very badly for himself, his friends and family. What ensues is a fast paced game of cat and mouse with gangsters, MI5 and secret agents.

What we have here is a terrifically atmospheric caper novel which showcases with depictive descriptions, post-war London. Jethro is a down to earth, intelligent, wise cracking, caring  and capable cat burglar who is brought to life with Tony Broadbent's skillful writing. And a wonderful supporting cast of characters makes for some terrific reading. The smoke is an enjoyable caper novel which in some spots moved a little slowly but the terrific post-war London details and the loveable character of Jethro more than made up for any slowdown in the plot. 

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