Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Last Hero (1930)


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Mar 27: Please check back. Currently reading, I fill in this post as I go along. RM

Major characters:


  • Simon Templar, The Saint
  • Patricia Holm, his girlfriend
  • Roger Conway
  • Norman Kent
  • Hoppy Uniatz
  • Professor K. B. Vargan, inventor of the death ray
  • Dr. Rayt Marius, evil master criminal
  • Golter, an anarchist


Locale: England

Synopsis: Simon Templar and Patricia Holm are out driving one night, and their attention is drawn to flashes of light from an isolated house. They investigate to find Professor K. B. Vargan demonstrating his new invention,  a death ray, to some government officials. Simon is concerned that once the military has it, war is inevitable; so plans to destroy it. Meanwhile evil Dr. Rayt Marius has decided to grab it for his own purposes. The action quickly comes to a standoff: The Saint is holding Professor Vargan, and Rayt Marius is holding Patricia Holm; and neither one will back down.

Review: An early Charteris thriller, with an edgier, more violent Saint than in later writings. Many of the Saint quotations come from this book. I enjoyed when Charteris waxes poetical about Patricia Holm, and also the Hirondel!  A good insight into the mood of Britain in the runup to World War II.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Call for the Saint (1948)


This title consists of two stories, The King of the Beggars and The Masked Angel.

The King of the Beggars

Major characters:

Monica Varing, actress
Junior, a thug
Fingers Shultz, a thug
Sammy de Leg, old pal of Hoppy's
Frankie Weiss, the in-between
The King of the Beggars
Mrs. Laura Wingate, a society dame
Stephen Elliott, philanthropist
Detective Lieutenant Alvin Kearney
Simon Templar
Hoppy Uniatz


Locale: Chicago

Synopsis: The Saint stumbles upon a protection racket being worked in Chicago. The King of the Beggars extorts protection money from street beggars. The Saint and actress Monica Varing team up, in disguise, to infiltrate the organization and unmask the King. No middle class here, we alternate between the alleys and high society parties. Good account of the dirty Chicago of the 1930's.


The Masked Angel

Major characters:

Dr. Spangler
Torpedo Smith, a prizefighter
Barrelhouse Bilinski, a.k.a The Masked Angel, a prizefighter
Michael Grady, manager of the Manhattan Arena
Connie Grady, his daughter
Steve Nelson, Connie's finace
Whitey Mullins, old pal of Hoppy Uniatz, works at the Arena
Karl, a thug
Simon Templar
Hoppy Uniatz
Inspector John Henry Fernack

Locale: New York City

Synopsis: The Saint attends a fight in which The Masked Angel knocks out Torpedo Smith, for good - he is dead, but the actual cause is not known. The Angel wins every fight, even those he was not favored. The Saint is suspicious that Dr. Spangler has done something to give the Angel an unfair advantage. The Saint takes away the Angel's gloves for examination. The Masked Angel is to fight Steve Nelson next for the championship, but Steve meets his end, and The Saint substitutes for him in the ring.

Review: Unlike many adventures based on sports, even those who do not follow prizefighting can follow the action in this account. The Saint is in good form as he chases down the mystery of what happened to Torpedo Smith. Much attention is given to following the trail of a handgun - which had not been used, so why bother? And we always look forward to Patricia Holm, but she makes only a cameo appearance.



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The White Rider (1928)

The White Rider is the second of two novels which preceded the Saint series (The first being X Esquire). I was fortunate in finding both titles on eBay.

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Major Characters:
  • Seldon, now deceased, accumulated a fortune in drug money
  • Marion Fenton, Seldon's step-daughter
  • Arnold Bracebridge, lecherous receiver of stolen goods
  • Bill Kennedy, police detective
  • James Haddon, New York City police
  • Simon "Peter" Lestrange, a Saint-like adventurer
  • Rev. Theophilus Gregory
Locale: England

Synopsis: Marion Fenton's stepfather, Seldon, accumulated a fortune (1 million pounds) in illicit drug money in New York. He has passed on, and the money was never found. Marion claims to have stashed it somewhere, but will not touch it on principle. She worked as secretary to Arnold Bracebridge, but quit after his repeated advances to her. She lives at Sancreed Manor, and there is a mysterious horseman, called The White Rider, who rides about at night in the vicinity.

Bill Kennedy is sent by Scotland Yard to investigate, and attempt to locate the money. He is accompanied by James Haddon of the New York City police.

Soon after their arrival, Bracebridge is found murdered in an abandoned cottage in the woods, and The White Rider had been seen nearby. Where is the 1 million pounds, and who is the White Rider?

Review:

Definitely this is a "first draft" of the Saint series, with our adventurer-on-the-edge-of-the-law Simon (hmm, even the same name) Lestrange. All the elements are present: fast cars of fictional makes, wild chases, a beautiful damsel in distress, booty to be had by bopping the ungodly.

A bit hard to follow who is speaking at times, with many references to a "Steven" who is never quite identified - he seems to be only a figure of speech.

A bit rough and repetitive in places, but quite a fun read knowing it was one of the two predecessor novels of the Saint series. Just remember this was 1928 when standards were a little different.



Introduction and Title List

Introduction


Title List

Non-Saint books
X Esquire
The White Rider

Saint books
Call for the Saint
The Last Hero (1930)