Best 1971 Adventures (10)

By: Joshua Glenn
September 29, 2016

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1971 adventure novels. Happy 45th anniversary!



Victor Canning’s espionage adventure Firecrest.

A thriller told from the point of view of John Grimster, who works for a British Ministry of Defence dirty-tricks organization known only as “the Department.” Grimster is a world-weary assassin, who for years has been dispatched to handle, organize, or suppress certain situations and persons, as needed. In this adventure, he’s tasked with persuading Lily, the girlfriend of a recently deceased scientist, to reveal the whereabouts of the scientists’s top-secret papers. However, he ends up protecting Lily from other ruthless agents; and — while continuing to seek the scientists’s missing papers — he investigates the death of his own girlfriend, who recently died in a road accident. (Did the Department have her killed?) Hypnosis plays an important role in the plot; so does fly-fishing!

Fun fact: In the 1950s, Canning’s adventure novels were better known than Ian Fleming’s. However, Canning is all but forgotten today. Which is too bad, because his thrillers from 1971–1980 — e.g., The Rainbird Pattern, The Finger of Saturn, the YA novel The Runaways, and even an Arthurian trilogy (!) — are terrific. Forget Fleming, read Canning.


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1971 adventures that you particularly admire.