Best 1938 Adventures (6)
May 15, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1938 adventure novels. Happy 80th anniversary!
Leslie Charteris’s Simon Templar adventure Prelude for War (also published as The Saint Plays with Fire).
Spotting a manor house on fire as they’re driving through the English countryside, Simon Templar and Patricia Holm attempt unsuccessfully to rescue a man inside. Learning that the victim was a prominent Socialist agitator, and that the rest of the house party were conservative pillars of society, the Saint — who, earlier, while listening to a broadcast about the Sons of France, an influential right-wing party across the Channel, predicted that Europe’s future will involve invasions and concentration camps — investigates the suspicious blaze. Why was the victim’s bedroom door locked… and the key missing? The Sons of France, Templar soon discovers, are involved somehow; and so is an unscrupulous munitions maker. Was this an assassination designed to spark a Second World War? Also… will the Saint’s nemesis, police detective Teal, get the last laugh?
Fun facts: Previously serialized in the American magazine Cosmopolitan (!). Later editions of the book were retitled The Saint and the Sinners and The Saint Plays with Fire.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.