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The Smoke (Creeping Narrative Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Tony Broadbent
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Smoke—(Cockney slang for London)— is about a cat burglar and jewel thief, called Jethro, in the austere world of 1947 post-war, black-market-riddled England.
Brought up in and around one of London's famed street markets, Jethro is as smart as he is street wise, which is just as well, as he always needs all of his wits about him to pull off the perfect job and not get caught.
Since the end of the war—having finished service in the Merchant Navy—Jethro has told everybody that he's gone straight and has taken-up as a stagehand around London's many theatres and music halls. (His skill with ropes and pulleys is as easily transferred to going up and down the outside of buildings, as it is to the needs of the theatre fly-floor.) But the truth is, hiding in plain sight in around London's West End is the perfect cover for him to be able to set up his diamond capers in the wealthy areas of Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Belgravia.
None of London's top villains—the true life, Jack Spot and Billy Hill—believe that Jethro has gone straight, and neither does Darby Messima, Soho's fearsome crime-lord. And at some time or another everyone wants him to do just one more little job for them.
And when, after he's burgled the embassy of a certain, un-named Iron Curtain power, and stolen jewels belonging to the ambassador's wife and daughter, Jethro comes to the attention of His Majesty's Secret Service, even they ask him to burgle the place again to retrieve a code book for them. And the trouble is, if he doesn't agree, then things threaten to go very badly indeed, for him, his family and his friends.
But it's all really a set up for a thief to cat ch a thief, that leads to a deadly game of cat and mouse to see who will get to Jethro first: London's gangsters, MI5, or one of the Soviet's most formidable secret agents.
In The Smoke, author Tony Broadbent captures the heartbeat of London and offers up a thrilling first mystery that marks him as a writer to watch; with two sequels ready to be released.

Product Description

About the Author

Tony Broadbent lives in Marin County, California.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 794 KB
  • Print Length: 1 pages
  • Publisher: MP Publishing Limited (21 Feb. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #354,753 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed But Fun 30 Jan. 2003
The cat burglar turned hero isn't exactly an original idea, "The Saint" did it a long time ago in print, on TV (from 1962-69 starring Roger Moore), and in film (including a series of British films in the late '30s, a few French versions in the '60s, some made for television films in the late '80s and a lame 1997 Hollywood version starring Val Kilmer). Here, however, the hero/cat burglar operates in London ("The Smoke") in 1947, when postwar austerity made England a very bleak place indeed. Unaffiliated with any criminal gangs, Jethro is a master "creeper" who keeps a low profile and has never been nabbed. Told entirely in first-person narration, the story details how he gets tangled up with both a nasty mobster and British Intelligence.
London comes alive through Jethro's eyes, and it's a wholly convincing portrayal of the postwar era, with low morale due to widespread rationing (clothes, food, alcohol, tobacco) and the psychological scars of the war. A cockney who fled London for a career in the Merchant Marine and then the Merchant Navy only to return and start a new career thieving, he's a sympathetic figure. Of course he only steals from the rich, who are likely to be insured, and he spreads his wealth generously among friends and family. But when he inadvertently steals from a Russian spy, it leads to the unbalancing of his carefully tailored life.
The book is strong on details, both in terms of description and slang. The author has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to get the period lingo right, and it is fairly well sustained throughout, but at times comes across just too campy. One minor annoyance is that he provides a glossary at the start, but then when using slang terms in the text, awkwardly pauses to explain them the first time they appear, interrupting the flow.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Despite the fact I have read the two books in the Felony and Mayhem series, by Tony Broadbent in the wrong order - it did not distract in any way from my enjoyment or understanding.
The plot moves along at a good rate and the characters are well portrayed. Our hero, Jethro, is a likeable rogue with typical cockney roots. He also has solid values, kindness and principles considering that as well as being a stage hand in the London theatres he is also a cat burglar!
The secret service involvement also conjures up what I would believe to be perfect examples of post-war, senior staff within MI5 demonstrating their dedication to protecting the country from the emerging communist threats to the British way of life. (Demonstrating their stiff upper lips, good breeding and superb manners.)
The villains came in two varieties, London gangland, (territorial villains who are quick to show their strength), and International spies that are cruel and ruthless. Both types are equally scary and challenging to Jethro's peaceful existence.
Jethro's colourful friends, his fence "Buggy Billy" / Ray, the coppers and his relatives all help to complete the picture of post-war London and the attitudes, hopes and way of life. The fledgling aspirations of the population in these austere times and how they celebrate their camraderie, coming up to Christmas, was very evocative of how I remember the early 1950s. Tony paints great images in the imagination of his readers.
I am looking forward to future editions in the Jethro series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ripping yarn 5 April 2013
By Lilli
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Quite a page turner. Well paced story which maintains the interest of the reader with the historical background of the London of post war shortages, rationing and black market underworld characters. A good read. Well worth the effort and time to indulge in some nostalgia for those of us who can remember those days, or an interesting history insight for anyone who wants to relate to that vanished era.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creeping in London's criminal scene in post world war II. 5 Dec. 2007
By Rebecca Huston - Published on
It's odd, but I've always felt that once WWII was over, London was back to the capital that we've gotten to know, full of black taxis, stately terrace homes, and monuments everywhere. Now I know better, thanks to Tony Broadbent's first novel, The Smoke: A Creeping Narrative.

This is a London that may be at peace, but it is certainly not a prosperous one. Everything is still rationed -- even bread, there's a flourishing black market, and most of the City is still in ruins from the German bombings. Worst still, there's not that much work to be had, and the economy is still depressed and looking to slide further into unrest. For a cat burglar like Jethro, it's lean times, especially if he can't get a good job or two in.

Lucky for Jethro he's very very good at what he does. As the novel opens, he's slipping into an embassy to pilfer the jewelry that the ambassador's wife and daughter were wearing to a social event. The heist goes smoothly, until Jethro almost gets caught, and the shooting starts. Unluckily for him, while he does get away, someone does get killed falling to his death on the street below.

And things just go downhill from there. In his plunder, Jethro finds not one, but two little black books, and both promise to get him into a lot of trouble. Even the people that he cares about are being threatened, from Ray -- Buggy Billy -- his scholarly fence, to his family are being harmed, and the local thugs are out to get him.

When Jethro is given an offer he can't turn down -- he can't even negotiate on it -- the story takes a surprising twist, and just when I thought the story was over, it wasn't. Instead, Broadbent builds everything up in a steady acceleration of suspense, to a final conclusion that hints of more to come.

I was really pleased with this book. The narrative is exciting, full of action and description and a real sense of life where even if the bombings are over, there's a new war that is brewing. The depictions of life are very well done, including those silky smooth men in MI5 who might not be as rough as the street gangs, but much more deadly.

What makes this novel work so well is the skill that Broadbent has in creating his protagonist, Jethro. He's survived the war, with terrible losses of his own, and while he's making a living in a very creative way of expressing 'redistribution of wealth,' there's something about Jethro that makes him a rogue, and a very likeable one at that. While he is breaking the law, he has a certain moral code that he lives by, and it has its own responsibilities and admonditions.

Several of the secondary characters are just as vivid, especial Ray, the well-educated, patriotic fence, and the very intriguing Seth who comes to Jethro's aid when he runs afoul of the treacherous Chalkie. Even the mob leaders are interesting, if detestible, especially the Emperor of Soho, Mr. Messima, who runs his underworld with all the subtlety and artistic flair of a Nero.

Most of all with this one is the language, with the rolling, rhyming Cockney slang and Jethro's own awareness of who he is and the decisions that he makes. I found myself flung into a world that's having a hard time of it, but still able to take pleasures in the small happy things of life, even with things turn tragic, there's still the idea that it's really going to get better soon.

A very nice touch was the inclusion of a glossary of the slang and speak of the novel, which really helped to sort out some of the novel, and a map of London just after the war.

For those who like their thrillers to be candid, honest and with a touch of humour, The Smoke is an excellent choice for a winter night's read. Broadbent has written a sequel for the next mystery about Jethro, and I suspect that it will be just as exciting as this one was, with the title being Spectres in the Smoke.

Four and a half stars, rounded up to five.

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Applause, applause for The Smoke and Broadbent 28 Oct. 2002
By Tim Goldring - Published on
Applause, applause for The Smoke and Broadbent.
I was hooked after the first paragraph and like other reviewers then began to portion it out on a daily basis.
I lived in London for many years and was thrilled by the geographical accuracy and life style portrayals which are as real as I knew them in the late sixties and seventies. During this era you could still walk into any pub or cafe and meet these peolpe, overhear snatches of conversation and at a glance see post war London etched on the faces of the older punters. I loved the way characters "appeared" on cue and moved in and out of the plot, leaving you wondering what their story was or could be, where they came from and were going to.
Oh, and by the way Buggy Billy was a real person who I knew and who sadly died recently. He was a friend to my wifes parents for many years and they remember the market stall days of London. For those of you who think that it stretches the bounds of credibility, a coster monger selling bug powder, should also posess a British Museum Libary readers ticket, think again. It is true, I was a guide in the British Museum for a number of years and he was a regular reader. MI5 and MI6 in the fifties and sixties is pretty much as it is portrayed - my father was attached to the Ministry of Defence for 30 years.
10 out of 10 for authenticity, story line, character creation and inter-spection.
My only issues is - when is the next book out and how will Broadbent follow it up?
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cat Burgler and Post WWII London-What a combo! 9 Aug. 2006
By LindaJB - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book! The protagonist (Jethro the Cat Burgler) isn't TOO clean, the government "good guys" aren't TOO good, and the taste and feel of Post-war London is delicious. Step into a different world and learn some cockney while you are at it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The stuff Tony leaves in 26 Feb. 2013
By Daniel Quinn - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Elmore Leonard once famously explained his success with readers this way: "I leave out the stuff other writers put in." Author Broadbent doesn't just leave the stuff in, he doubles and triples it. At one point about three-quarters of the way through the book, the narrator opens the door to his flat and stops, certain that someone has been inside. After about 200 words of scintillating mental activity as he stood motionless, he says, "I searched inside me for the silence between heartbeats, found it, settled myself, and closed my eyes. And when I opened them again I found I could see through the curtains of my life, and clearly see all the things that familiarity had numbed me to only moments before." (For the reader, only minutes before.)

Then after another 200 words, while still motionless, he says, "I caught a whiff of something, the very faintest trace of soap or hair cream that wasn't me or mine. It smelt expensive, more Jermyn Street than Praed Street, more gentlemen's hairdresser by-appointment-only than the local barbershop." How could we possibly read on without all this information?

After another 100 words, while still motionless, he says of his unwanted visitor, "I knew it wasn't Mrs. Mac," his housekeeper, whose work (just what you'd expect of a meticulous housekeeper) he describes in detail for another 100 words, concluding, "I knew it wasn't her. But someone had definitely been in the flat, I was dead certain of that." He goes on: "After all my time at sea I couldn't abide a messy place, which is why I always tried to keep my flat spick and span." The author then spends more than a full page -- I would guess about 400 words -- detailing just how neat, spick, and span he USUALLY keeps the flat. And, as he stands there, he sees that the flat is just the way it USUALLY is -- as neat, spick, and span as always.

Now, after three full pages of text -- covering the 30 or 40 seconds the narrator spends standing in the doorway -- he finally moves into the living room. And stands there. How do you like that for high drama?

Only a sample, mind you. Through the last third of the book I found myself not reading but rather just scanning for activity. Then I wondered, "Why am I doing this at all?"

I'll not do it again with this author.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thriller of a Ride! 13 July 2008
By Michele H. Lacina - Published on
You might think that on the surface this is a 'man's' book. Nothing could be further from the truth. Good writing appeals to everyone and THE SMOKE is writing at its finest. Thrills. Chills. A hint of romance. What's more, there's nothing like a hero with enough flaws to keep him from perfection, and enough old-fashioned honor to have you sitting in your seat cheering him on.

The world in England right after WWII was harder than most of us here in the States might imagine. Like the title, Tony Broadbent paints a picture of the gray everyday life that surrounded the British who had fought to keep their Empire intact but are now bearing the ramifications of loss, hardship, and want. Scraping by to survive is the rule of the day, so it's easy to understand and like Jethro and his thieving ways. He's surrounded by characters who illustrate humanity--some noble and good, some greedy and evil, and some who realistically display the bit of larceny that comes to the top in such times from necessity of patriotism and the needs of the many.

Everything from the descriptions to the dialogue is loaded with authenticity. I fell in love with Jethro. The actions scenes were spot on. The nobility of the everyday man forced to play the hero is done exceptionally well in this book. IF Hollywood had a brain, they'd scoop this series up. Then again, I don't know how they could because the characters were done so well that I doubt they'd translate the onto the screen with the same dexterity as author allowed me to portray in my mind.

I so enjoyed Jethro's exploits that I immediately ordered the sequel for my husband to put away for me for Christmas. I have to admit that I'm straining at the bit to see what happens next but I'm sure that by the time I finish Jethro's next exploits they'll be another book around for me to devour.

I have recommended this series to all my friends and purchased another copy to 'lend'. (No, I refuse to lend MY copy as I might not get it back...and this one is going on my Keeper Shelf. Since I spotted a few authors before they climbed upward (like Nora Roberts, Iris Johansen, Dick Francis, Kay Hooper, Richard Doetsch, and Marnie Davis Kellogg,) I'm expecting to see Tony Broadbent join them before too long.

I look forward to saying, "I told you!"
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