Dunne, Sep 2002, 23.95, 320 pp.
After serving in the Merchant Navy, former creeper (cat burglar) Jethro insists he has gone straight using the skills he learned during World War II to earn a living as a stagehand in London's West End theatres. No one who knows Jethro from before the war believes he can resist the lure of a caper. Several of his underground cronies have even tried to enlist Jethro's help on jobs.
Jethro serendipitously plies his real profession creeping quietly into places to rob jewels. He successfully enters the Russian Embassy and takes jewels belonging to the ambassador's wife. However, His Majesty's Secret Service observed his activity and recruits (perhaps blackmailed is more accurate) him to perform a special service for them. He must steal a code book from the Soviets but by accomplishing his assignment, not only will the espionage world from both camps seek him out but so will the police and the mob.
Though the theme has been used in numerous novels and movies, debut author Tony Broadbent refreshes the plot through a strong cast of characters including London. Jethro is a wonderful creeper and the secondary ensemble from seemingly every walk life in the SMOKE (slang for London) wanting to exploit his talents are fully developed making the novel worth reading. Also London circa 1947 is so vividly described, the audience will feel they are there. All this inside a cleverly drawn thriller that overcomes a slow meet the players beginning leave the reader demanding more novels from the obviously talented Mr. Broadbent.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner