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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 catch 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.
- MP Publishing, December 2009
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