The Thuggery Affair is unusual in terms of the wider Marlow saga, in being a boy-dominated story. The main characters are Peter and Lawrie Marlow and their friend and neighbour Patrick Merrick. Nicola, the usual heroine of the series, is visiting her friend Miranda in London and Ginty is visiting her French grandmother. The action is set mainly in Colebridge, the nearest town to the Marlow family’s home at Trennels, during spring half-term.
The Thuggery was the Marlows’ name for the boys who looked after local landowner Miss Culver’s racing pigeons, but no real harm was known of them until Patrick’s falcon killed one of the pigeons. Then Peter and Patrick examined the capsule it was carrying and realized that they had stumbled on a case of drug smuggling. A scuffle breaks out, a gang member is stabbed to death and the Thuggeries flee. Jukie, the gang leader, requisitions Miss Culver’s car and attempts to escape, taking Patrick with him. They discuss Catholicism, Jukie’s childhood and the H-bomb. The car swerves as Patrick attempts to stop them hitting a police roadblock and the car hits a tree …
Antonia Forest explained the book was, ‘written during that long-dead period when teenagers talked self-invented languages, incomprehensible to any other age-group. Unfortunately, I think I was the only person who did understand what my characters were saying.’
First published by GGBP in 2005, this new edition will have a fresh introduction.