Best 1976 Adventures (6)

By: Joshua Glenn
November 10, 2016

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1976 adventure novels. Happy 40th anniversary!



Len Deighton’s espionage adventure Twinkle, Twinkle Little Spy.

With the complicity of a Soviet scientist (a kook, who is attempting to establish contact with alien civilizations), the KGB has been stealing scientific secrets from the US government. Major Mann, a CIA blowhard, is sent to the Sahara Desert to take custody of the scientist, who wishes to defect; an unnamed British agent — Harry from The IPCRESS File, or someone else? — accompanies him. Mann notes that their old-fashioned espionage methods are becoming obsolete, thanks to satellite technology; the novel’s title is the unnamed British agent’s world-weary rejoinder. What starts as a relatively straightforward assignment, though, gets murky; Mann and the British agent end up traveling all over the world. A more action-packed adventure than many of Deighton’s spy novels; some of his diehard fans might find it too simplistic, while those who scratch their heads over Deighton’s puzzles might particularly like this one.

Fun fact: Also published as Catch a Falling Spy. The final installment in Deighton’s “unnamed hero” novels, which include: The IPCRESS File (1962) Horse Under Water (1963), Funeral in Berlin (1964), Billion-Dollar Brain (1966), An Expensive Place to Die (1967), Spy Story (1972), and Yesterday’s Spy (1975).


Let me know if I’ve missed any 1976 adventures that you particularly admire.


Adventure, Lit Lists