THE SMOKE, by Tony Broadbent
London, post World War II, when Britain is on tighter rationing than during the Blitz. The Black Market thrives, crime doesn't take a holiday (although it's largely without the firepower of America across the Pond), and creeper (burglar) and jewel thief Jetthro barely escapes his latest spot of work in a hail of gunfire. He's aimed high, our conniving but charming Jetthro: a foreign Embassy and the fabulous jewels of the Ambassador's wife and daughter. But he also stole two little black books which set crime lords, rivals, despicable international thieves, Communist spies, assorted psychopaths and the authorities after him and his mentor, Ray "Buggy Billy" Karmen. Author Broadbent - this was his first book (2002), which for some reason I found on a new-book shelf - has recreated the era with great detail, believable characters (most of them not so nice, but each with a clear, and believable separate character) and a fascinating list of Cockney/thieves rhyming cant; if you love London - once called The Smoke, and it really was - you'll love this book. It's a 5+ for me, and I can hardly wait to review the next Broadbent book.