Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Henderson's Boys

Go To

A British spy series set in World War II. Henderson's Boys concerns the activities of the last active British agent in Nazi-occupied France, and the children he adopts/recruits to assist him. It's sold as a prequel to the author's bestselling Cherub Series, but has a significantly darker tone and a very different setting. Main characters include Charles Henderson, an adult British spy, Marc Kilgour, a young French orphan, Paul and Rosie Clarke, who are British kids orphaned in the first book, and PT Bivott, a young French American thief that fled American for France, only to arrive in time for World War II. Other agents are added in Secret Army, including Luc, Joel, Troy, Sam and Yves.

The books try to keep things fairly realistic, and is very much in the Stale Beer category of Spy Fiction. There are no over the top supervillains that can only be defeated by bullet dodging tux wearing super spies. The series makes it clear that one mistake, one stray bullet, or one unlucky event could doom the entire group.


The series consists of:

  1. The Escape
  2. Eagle Day
  3. Secret Army
  4. Grey Wolves
  5. The Prisoner
  6. One Shot Kill
  7. Scorched Earth

This series provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: Including young children. Scorched Earth contains Rosie.
  • Brother-Sister Team: Paul and Rosie.
  • The Bully: Luc, whose favourite target is Paul.
  • Bully Hunter: Several of the students retaliate against Luc's bullying.
  • Children Forced to Kill: First Marc Kilgour and latter many of the other agents kill Germans as part of their operations.
  • Child Soldiers: Because it is wartime, the role of the ERU-B is even more soldier-like than their CHERUB successors.
  • Cloak & Dagger: ERU-B is very much in the Cloak & Dagger tradition of British spy fiction and the Real Life World War II era British Special Operations Executive and Commandos.
  • The Chick: Somewhat inverted. Rosie, described on the official website as "The one who isn't a boy," is actually a tough, bossy, capable character who contributes to the team. However, the gender roles of the 1940's means that many characters persist in viewing her as The Chick.
  • Advertisement:
  • A Death in the Limelight: Rosie gets more moments in the penultimate book, One Shot Kill, supposedly setting up a target on her back. However, it's Subverted when she lives throughout the hole book. But then, its Double Subverted when one finds out that it was foreshadowing her death in Scorched Earth, where she is only there for two chapters in total.
  • Death from Above: Both German and British bombing raids play an important part of the stories.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Mr. Takada, a Japanese national who is training the children as an alternative to being in a prisoner of war camp.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Mr. Takada is teaching martial arts to ERU-B trainees.
  • Free-Range Children: Rosie and Paul spend some time as free range children in The Escape. PT Bivott also spends times a free range child. The training exercise in Secret Army involves the children performing a simulated mission that involves traveling through England without adult supervision or help.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: ERU and ERU-B, the predecessor to CHERUB
  • Harmful to Minors: Children are fully exposed to the horrors of war and Nazi occupation
  • Historical Fiction: The series is set during World War II. So far, all the books have taken place on the Western Front of the European Theater.
  • Home Base: ERU-B has a training center established by the beginning of Secret Army.
  • The Infiltration: The mission in Eagle Day and no doubt future missions.
  • Just a Kid: The premise of ERU-B is that Those Wacky Nazis will underestimate young agents because they are that.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Well, not all, but several are, especially Luc.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: After Marc kills Mr. Tomas in One Shot Kill, he douses hot water from a saucepan onto him to make it look like that he slipped and accidentally grabbed the saucepan, leading to his demise.
  • Parental Abandonment: All of the children in ERU-B are either orphans or otherwise separated from their parents.
  • School Uniforms Are the New Black
  • Something Only They Would Say: Not exactly, but in Grey Wolves an RAF pilot tries to find out if Charles Henderson is really English by asking him things only an Englishman would know. It doesn't work, because their lack of a common social class meant that their cultural frames of reference were too different.
  • Spy Fiction: Charles Henderson is a British spy and begins training children to act as spies.
  • The Spymaster: Charles Henderson and his superiors.
  • Spy School: ERU-B trains children to be spies and saboteurs. The term "spy school" is used in Grey Wolves.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: It is the middle of a war after all...
  • Teen Super Spy: The entire point of ERU-B is to use teens and even preteens as spies. Nevertheless, this is very much a Stale Beer version of the teen spy rather than something along the lines of Alex Rider or the Spy Kids movies.
  • There Are No Therapists: While CHERUB averts this by providing mental health services to their young agents, World War II era Britain does not have such things high on their priority list.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Including, of course, SS officers
  • Training from Hell: The training that ERU-B agents undergo
  • Your Cheating Heart: Charles Henderson is a serial adulterer to his wife. PT Bivott cheats on Rosie with a prostitute in Grey Wolves.


Example of: