cover image Spectres in the Smoke: A Creeping Narrative

Spectres in the Smoke: A Creeping Narrative

Tony Broadbent, . . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $23.95 (322pp) ISBN 978-0-312-29026-9

As in Broadbent's first post-WWII British spy caper to feature cat burglar Jethro, The Smoke (2002), his second lighthearted thriller finds British intelligence enlisting Jethro's criminal expertise in the national interest. To thwart a resurgence of fascism just a few years after the Nazis' defeat, the thief must recover some compromising records that implicate a member of the royal family in a right-wing conspiracy. Complicating Jethro's efforts to serve his handlers is a gangland war that threatens those dearest to him. Unfortunately, the author fails to match his engaging, roguish hero with a suitable plot. Despite the fast-paced action and diverting appearances by David Niven and Ian Fleming, the last-minute, hairbreadth rescues (including one of an attractive woman apparently intended as a sacrifice) strain credulity and diminish the impact of the political issues raised. Agent, Jill Grosjean . (Oct.)