Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Smoke: Tony Broadbent

This story features Jethro, a cat burglar in London after World  War II, and his family and friends. Since Jethro spends a portion of his time in criminal pursuits he gets mixed up with some very scary people. And then he is called upon to take part in some espionage.

From the description on the back of my copy of the book:
It's 1947, and London, having toughed out the War, is being half-crippled by the Peace. It's the coldest winter in living memory, everything from bread to soap to underwear is rationed, and even beer, by official order, is watered down.
I enjoy reading about this time period. Two other series that cover this period and this setting are John Lawton's Inspector Troy series and Laura Wilson's DI Ted Stratton series. Each of these series depict a time of deprivation and loss. The Inspector Troy series centers more around the wealthier, upper class citizens of London; the DI Ted Stratton series features the average citizens. In the Jethro series, we get a picture of the criminal elements of London. Although a lot of the story is light-hearted, there are parts of it that are not for the squeamish.

There were a lot of things to like about this book. Jethro is an entertaining narrator. He uses a lot of slang, and there is a glossary at the end of the book. Although I don't know the slang, especially for the tools of the trade for a cat burglar, I did not have to use the glossary too often. The picture of London of the time was well done. Per this interview at Murderati, the story has been carefully researched by the author. The interview is fascinating, and full of interesting information.

But I did have some problems with the book. Although I was willing to take the depiction of Jethro's life as accurate, there were inconsistencies and characters that did not jell for me. Jethro was too much of a romantic, which I could not take seriously.

There were also times I wished the story was moving along faster. I liked the background on the tricks of the trade, and his work as a stagehand, but I felt like the story dragged at times. Too much description and background, too little action.

Neither of these were serious problems. The good outweighs the bad, and overall I enjoyed  the book and want to continue the series. The second book takes place in 1948, the third in 1949. I am interested in seeing further depiction of London at this time and see how successful the author is at continuing this series.

6 comments:

  1. Tracy - That's exactly how I felt about this one: that the good outweighed the less-believable. I thought there was a solid sense of atmosphere and like you, I like Jethro's character.

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    1. Yes, definitely lots of atmosphere. Have you read more of the series?

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  2. The setting sounds interesting, but maybe I'll look at one of the others series set in London at that time.

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    1. I did like the other two series I mentioned better. I have read all of the John Lawton series, and only two of the Laura Wilson series. Having a hard time finding her later ones.

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  3. I've read the Lara Wilson books, although I did go off them slightly after a certain character died (not sure if you've got there yet). I definitely like this period and also enjoy books set in London where I live. Another one for my list *sigh*

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    1. I do know what you are talking about in that series, and that book did not put me off the series, but not sure how I will like it after that... haven't gotten to the third book. Too much of an effort to find, and too many books already purchased that I haven't read.

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