Born in Windsor, England; married. Education: Studied art in London, England, c. 1966-70.
Home—Mill Valley, CA. Agent—Amy Rennert, The Amy Rennert Agency, Inc., 98 Main St., No. 302, Tiburon, CA 94920. E-mail—[email protected]
Bruce Alexander Award for best historical crime novel, and Best Spy Novel citation, Booklist, both 2006, both for Spectres in the Smoke.
"JETHRO CREEPING NARRATIVE" MYSTERY SERIES
The Smoke, St. Martin's Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Spectres in the Smoke, St. Martin's Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2005.
In The Smoke, his debut novel in the "Jethro Creeping Narrative" mystery series, advertising consultant Tony Broadbent introduces readers to Jethro, a wisecracking cat-burglar in post-World War II London, England, otherwise known as "the Smoke." In the opening few chapters of the book, Jethro plans and executes a burglary of the Soviet Embassy in London, managing to abscond with two cases full of jewels. His crime is known of, however, by members of the United Kingdom intelligence agency MI5. By threatening to turn him in for his crime, the agency compels him to plan another heist at the embassy, this time stealing a code book—an act that will help trap a spy and rescue a beautiful defector. In addition to tales of the embassy capers, Broadbent fills out the novel with details of the underworld in gritty postwar London. These and other aspects of the story were unanimously praised by critics. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the "evocative and witty style" of Broadbent's "strong debut," while a contributor to Kirkus Reviews found Jethro to be a "lovable, larcenous" character who is "sure to steal [the] hearts" of readers. Terry D'Auray, writing on the Agony Column Web site, found The Smoke "surprisingly good," noting that despite "a few first-novel lapses," the book is nevertheless "a caper with all the expected suspense, enriched by a superior setting and an engrossing social sub-story." Indeed, AllReaders.com contributor Harriet Klausner agreed with this positive assessment, regarding the mystery "cleverly drawn" and "worth reading," and remarking that it will "leave the reader demanding more novels from the obviously talented Mr. Broadbent."
Broadbent's second "Creeping Narrative" novel is titled Spectres in the Smoke, and the book reintroduces the reader to Jethro. In this installment, Jethro is once again asked to commit a burglary to aid the MI5, this time to lift membership records from the headquarters of a fascist group that opposes the British Labour government. The Cabal, a clandestine militant Jewish organization, wants the membership files as well, and they attempt to persuade Jethro to perform the heist for them. At the same time, a gangland war threatens, causing Jethro to fear for his loved ones. Like many second novels, Broadbent's Spectres in the Smoke met with mixed reviews. A Publishers Weekly reviewer suggested that Broadbent "fails to match his engaging, roguish hero with a suitable plot." This view was shared by a Kirkus Reviews critic, who felt that despite Jethro's engaging nature, the novel suffers from "loose plotting." Booklist contributor Connie Fletcher, however, disagreed, calling the book "as tense and fascinating" as The Smoke. Fletcher also praised the story's "terrific details" as well as the main character's "sardonic wit."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2002, Connie Fletcher, review of The Smoke, p. 62; September 1, 2005, Connie Fletcher, review of Spectres in the Smoke, p. 68.
Chicago Tribune, October 30, 2005, Dick Adler, review of Spectres in the Smoke.
Commuter Times (San Francisco, CA), September 12, 2002, Peter Robinson, "On the Ferry: An Interview."
Denver Post, October 3, 2005, Tom and Enid Schantz, "A Cat Burglar in Service to Her Majesty," review of Spectres in the Smoke.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of The Smoke, p. 995; August 15, 2005, review of Spectres in the Smoke, p. 883.
Publishers Weekly, August 12, 2002, review of The Smoke, p. 280; August 22, 2005, review of Spectres in the Smoke, p. 40.
Washington Post Book World, September 29, 2002, Maureen Corrigan, review of The Smoke, p. 8.
Agony Column,http://www.trashotron.com/agony/ (April 11, 2006), Terry D'Auray, review of The Smoke.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (April 11, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of The Smoke.