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JOHN GARFORTH
The Avengers: Heil Harris!


click to enlarge

Panther, London, 1967
(price: 3/6; 128 pages)


The blurb on the back:

Did Hitler die in a bunker or is he celebrating his 78th birthday today and living in exile in Hertfordshire...?
...That's the question worrying Steed after meeting a certain 78-year-old Herr Harris who dreams of catastrophe and is clearly connected with mystic rites being practised in the Herts countryside. But Steed soon finds the world facing a far graver danger...
Emma Peel - elected dictator of Great Britain!


opening lines:
I first met Adolf Hitler when I was a young captain in 1945. He was dead.


What can I possibly add to the mountains of material already written about The Avengers? Bugger all, to be honest. Though, if you want to read a decent analysis of the series, I can point you in the direction of a very fine book: James Chapman's Saints & Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s (IB Tauris, London, 2002).

The show was, as you'll no doubt already know, a fantastically stylish pop-art self-referential post-modern piss-take of the entire spy genre starring the gorgeous Patrick Macnee alongside a string of equally lovely young ladies. My own favourite was Linda Thorson, but the popular choice was Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, and it's her who stars in this novel.

Obviously the reduction of a Swinging Sixties classic to the typeset page is going to be a thankless task, but John Garforth gives the thing a damn good run for its money, and this is a nice little piece that will give any Avengers fan an entertaining hour-and-a-half. It's preposterous, it's nonsense, it's trash, it's salacious:

Cynthia Throgmorton came up to bed at three o'clock... Emma heard her pause outside her door. A gentle tap. 'Emma. Are you awake?' So it would be another hour before they had any sleep. The old habits of a girls' boarding school die hard. All that brushing of hair and drinking cocoa, the exchange of experiences. She only hoped that Cynthia wouldn't come into the bed. (p.29)

Stop drooling, man! Oh, alright then. Here's something to drool over...

spiky
Ms Diana Rigg as Emma Peel


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
3/5


bonus New Avengers scan
on the wild frontier
John Carter
The Eagle's Nest

visit a very fine guide to Avengers novels
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