Sunday, October 08, 2006

Creeping, Brit Style

Like the people in David Morrell's Creepers, reviewed below, the lead character in Spectres in the Smoke by Tony Broadbent has a fascination with exploring other people's buildings.

We first met the British cat burglar known only as Jethro in The Smoke, set in 1947, when Jethro’s occupation – breaking into London houses that survived the German bombings and removing objects of value – led to him being recruited by the MI5 intelligence mob, for whom he liberated some sensitive documents from the Soviet Embassy. A year later, with the city still largely pockmarked with ruined buildings – described in detail as heartbreakingly vivid as in John Lawton’s memorable mystery Black Out – Jethro is arm-twisted into stealing records from a Fascist organization intent on sinking the ruling Labour government.

Aside from his tribute to a blitzed capital, Broadbent also honors – with understated admiration and moments of high-quality local humor – the spirit of London’s inhabitants. Cary Grant could have played Jethro perfectly.