The Smoke

The Smoke

A Creeping Narrative

Book - 2002
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Baker & Taylor
After breaking into the Soviet embassy to steal jewels belonging to the ambassador's wife, Jethro, a young cat burglar, comes to the attention of the British Secret Service, which blackmails the thief into returning to the scene of his crime to retrieve a top-secret code book, in a suspenseful tale set in post-World War II London. A first novel. 12,500 first printing.

McMillan Palgrave
Brought up in one of London’s famed street markets, Jethro the cat burglar is as smart as he is streetwise, 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. After he breaks into the Soviet embassy and steals jewels belonging to the ambassador's wife, Jethro comes to the attention of His Majesty’s Secret Service, who forces him to revisit the place again to retrieve a code book for them. But this is all just a set up for a thief to catch a thief, and it 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.


Blackwell North Amer
The smoke - Cockney slang for London - is about a cat burglar and jewel thief, called Jethro, in the austere world of 1947 postwar, black-market riddled England.
Brought up around one of London's famed street markets, Jethro is as smart as he is streetwise, which is just as well, as he always needs all of his wits about him to pull off the perfect job. But since the end of the war - having served in the Merchant Navy - Jethro has told everybody that he's gone straight and has taken up as a stagehand around London's many theaters and music halls. (His skill with ropes and pulleys, which served him well in going up and down the outsides of buildings, is as easily suited to his new work above the theater fly gallery.) But the truth is, hiding in plain sight in and around London's West End is the perfect cover for him to set up his diamond capers in the wealthy areas of Mayfair, Knightsbridge, and Belgravia.
Neither of London's top villains - Jack Spot and Billy Hill - believe that Jethro has gone straight, and neither does Messima, Soho's fearsome crime lord. And at one time or another, everyone wants him to do a little job for them for old times' sake.
When, after burgling the embassy of a Soviet satellite country and stealing jewelry 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 for them. If he doesn't, then things threaten to go very badly indeed, for him, his family, and his friends.
But it's all a setup 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 Union's most formidable secret agents.

Baker
& Taylor

After breaking into the Soviet embassy to steal jewels, Jethro, a young cat burgler, comes to the attention of the British Secret Service, which blackmails the thief into returning to the scene of his crime to retrieve a top-secret code book.

Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur, 2002
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780312290276
0312290276
Branch Call Number: F BRO
Characteristics: xiii, 302 p. ; 22 cm

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BeanJean1
Dec 16, 2013

Really enjoyable, fast-moving, with witty and well-wrought characters. Jethro is a criminal with a heart of gold, but this story is not treacly; it's got crazy-scary villains and violence as well as work-a-day job and family life.

bookfanatic1979 Apr 30, 2013

Loved it. Jethro’s immensely likeable, and giving him the narrating voice was a stroke of brilliance by Broadbent. His irrepressible Cockney-isms and underground slang are a lot of fun to read, and the glossary in the front of the book translates most of his idioms. Will definitely be continuing with this series.

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