Monday, August 10, 2020

The Avenging Saint (1930)

Major characters:
  • Rayt Marius, a.k.a. "Angel Face"
  • Prince Rudolf
  • Sonia Delmar
  • Sir Isaac Lessing, Sonia's fiancé
  • Heinrich Dussel
  • Alexis Vassiloff, a Russian husband-to-be
  • Antonio, the "Italian Delegate"
  • Simon Templar, The Saint
  • Roger Conway

The Saint is suspicious of Heinrich Dussel, who has brought an apparant invalid into his home, but it seems the invalid is there against his/her will.

Arch criminal Rayt Marius is working for a group of war materiel manufacturers, and hatches a plan to start war in the Balkans. He teams up with Prince Rudolf. The general idea is get Sonia Delmar, daughter of a wealthy American manufacturer, to bail out of her upcoming marriage to Sir Isaac Lessing, marry Russian Alexis Vassiloff instead, and go over to Russia; at which point the jilted Lessing will initiate war.

Heinrich Dussel had kidnapped Sonia to start the scheme. The Saint rescues her, but then allows her back into their hands in order to follow them. She is taken on board a boat and heading for international waters, where the captain will perform a forced marriage ceremony to Vasiloff. 


This is the sequel to "The Last Hero", and the two should be read as a pair. The Saint is still seeking revenge from the death of his fellow saint, Norman Kent, at the hands of Rayt Marius (in The Last Hero).  There are two great chase accounts, the first being to the ship in which Sonia is held captive; the second in which Roger Conway pilots a plane and lowers Simon on a moving train, in a James Bond-worthy incident. The plot to ignite war seems a bit far-fetched and hard to follow, but perhaps it didn't take much to get the shooting started in 1930's Europe.

The Saint doesn't get completely avenged - Rayt Marius lives to see another day, and no doubt another book.

Note some pejorative terms for persons of various ancestry, unacceptable today but in common use at the time.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Saint in Miami (1940)

Major characters:
  • Lawrence Gilbeck, missing
  • Justine Gilbeck, his daughter; also missing
  • Randolph March, a rich pharmaceuticals maker
  • Captain Heinrich Friede, captain of March's yacht
  • Karen Leith, the redhead ingenue
  • Lafe Jennet, henchman, absent from jail
  • Jesse Rogers, nightclub performer
  • -- Gallipolis, Greek owner of a beatup gambling houseboat
  • Charlie Harwick, Indian guide
  • Sheriff Newton Haskins
  • Simon Templar, the Saint
  • Patricia Holm, his jealous girlfriend
  • Peter Quentin
  • Hoppy Uniatz

Synopsis: Simon Templar, Patricia Holm, Peter Quentin, and Hoppy Uniatz comes to pre-WWII-era Miami to visit Lawrence and Justine Gilbeck, but upon arrival, finds them missing. He also sees a ship explode, finds a dead body, and has a brief sighting of a submarine. He also notes a yacht departing the scene. 

He borrows the Gilbeck's speedboat and catches up to the Randolph March's yacht, the March Hare and boards. He meets March, Captain Friede, and a sexy redhead, Karen Leith.  

Later Karen Leith meets up with Simon. Someone takes a shot at them - and misses. Simon finds out the shooter is Lafe Jennet. Looking for the shooter leads Simon to an old gambling houseboat run by a Greek named Gallipolis.

Jennet says he was working for Jesse Rogers. Simon finds Rogers is a performer at a night club, The Palmleaf Fan. This is a German-style cabaret with dinner, dancing, and specializes in male performers dressed as women, and vice-versa.

Simon's investigation is cut short when Peter and Patricia are kidnapped, and the search takes him deep into the Everglades with Indian guide Charlie Harwick.


This is set in 1940 Miami, while WWII is ramping up in Europe but the US is still neutral. Suspicions of Germany are seen throughout. 

This is the 26th Saint novel, and Charteris is in his stride here. Sherriff Newton Haskins is a suprise - on the surface he seems the sleepy Southern sheriff, but he is a worthy adversary/partner for the Saint, even better than Claude Eustace Teal. The role of Karen Leith adds a new element to the story and tension between her and Patricia Holm.

The plod through the Everglades is a bit long but perhaps that is intentional, to portray the vast expanse and isolation of the area, which it does well.

Generally, when the Saint leaves England, the adventures become a bit awkward but this one excels.

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Saint and the Templar Treasure (1979)

Major characters:
  • Simon Templar, The Saint
  • Mimette Florian
  • Yves Florian, her father, owner of the Ingare Vineyard
  • Philippe Florian, her uncle
  • Henry Pichot, a lawyer
  • Gaston Pichot, his uncle
  • Jeanne Corday, Henry's high-maintenance fiancé
  • Professor Louis Norbert
Locale: France

Synopsis: Simon Templar is driving through France on his way to the Riviera. He picks up two hitchhikers who are travelling to work at Yves Florian's Ingare Vineyard, on the site of a former stronghold of the Knights Templar. They arrive at the vineyard just in time to see one of the barns on fire.

Mimette Florian, daughter of the owner, helps Simon after he incurs a small injury fighting the fire. He inquires about the Templar history, and meets Professor Louis Norbert, who is on site trying to decode an inscription on an ancient stone; in hopes of being a clue to the location of the fabled treasure of the Templars.

Review: This is a later Saint book, written by Donne Avenell and Graham Weaver; with editorial direction by Leslie Charteris. Note how the cover omits the names of the writers, instead proclaiming "Leslie Charteris' The Saint and the Templar Treasure", in which the Charteris name, in the possessive, just shows ownership of the The Saint name. A quick look leads the viewer to think he is the author, but no.

Good: The initial chapters set up the scene well and give the reader the flavor of a French vineyard; while the Saint character is none too exciting.  The final few chapters are much improved and more Saint-like in repartée and action.

Not so good: The descriptive words and language of Leslie Charteris which readers love are mostly absent. Patricia Holm and the usual sidekicks are missing. I expected more between The Saint and Mimette but at least they had a kiss or two. The treasure itself was a flop. Various phrases are rendered in French and require a passing knowledge to translate.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Brighter Buccaneer by Leslie Charteris (1933)

Major characters:
  • Simon Templar, The Saint
  • Peter Quentin
  • Patricia Holm
  • Chief Inspector Claud Eustace Teal


The Brain Workers - Simon provides some karma to a woman who was swindled out of some stock.
The Export Trade - Simon pulls the old switcheroo with the help of a friend who makes jewelry imitations.
The Unblemished Bootlegger - A con man who specializes in getting mugs to invest in a liquor export scheme to the prohibition-era USA gets the Saint treatment.
The Owners' Handicap - Patricia Holm steps in to enact some justice on a crooked racing horse owner.
The Tough Egg - Simon stages a gambling grab which also serves to annoy Claud Eustace.
The Bad Baron - Simon gets fooled by some stand-ins but gets a nice little compensation from a policewoman.
The Brass Buddha - Simon finds out what makes a souvenir Buddha so valuable.
The Perfect Crime - Simon puts up some suspicious Latvian bonds as collateral. He seems to have an endless supply of them. Is that a crime?
The Appalling Politician - An annoying politician has an important treaty stolen from his wall safe. Yet the room was guarded and watched the whole time. 
The Unpopular Landlord - A landlord who takes advantage of his tenants gets taken advantage of himself.
The New Swindle - A priceless piece of jewelry is sent through the mail. What can possibly go wrong?
The Five Thousand Pound Kiss - Simon is caught almost-red-handed with a precious jewel in his fist. How to get rid of it quickly?
The Green Goods Man - A swindler sets up the old switcheroo of a packet of real currency with a packet of pieces of newspaper. Simon doesn't fall for it.
The Blind Spot
The Unusual Ending

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Saint Overboard (1935)

Major characters:
  • Kurt Vogel, master criminal
  • Professor Wesley Yule
  • Otto Arnheim, a henchman
  • Loretta Page, insurance detective
  • Simon Templar, The Saint
  • 'Orace, associate of The Saint
Locale: the coast of France

Synopsis: Simon Templar is visiting the French coast on his boat, The Corsair. One night a woman swimming approaches his boat, it is Loretta Page. She is a private detective for an insurance agency, investigating recent thefts of maritime salvage in which the thieves make off with assets from sunken vessels before salvage operations can commence. 

Loretta has traced the thefts to Kurt Vogel on board the Falkenberg, and had been watching it. The Falkenberg is outfitted for deep sea recovery. Vogel has a guest, Professor Wesley Yule, inventor of a deep diving outfit called the "bathystol"; which Vogel wants.

The Saint and Loretta team up to infiltrate the Falkenberg.

Review: This thriller with The Saint, the beautiful woman, and the master criminal is somewhat predictable but still fun. The settings on the ocean are well done and descriptions bring us all the sights and sounds of the French coast. The love interest between Simon and Loretta is detailed much more than the later stories with Patricia Holm. Vogel is calm and cold, and focused on his treasure stealing empire. The finalé comes with The Saint and Vogel both diving to Vogel's undersea treasure trove. This is a pure thriller - no mysteries to be had. 'Orace lends a supporting role, Peter Quentin and Roger Conway make brief appearances. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Saint Goes On (1934)

This book consists of three novellas.

The High Fence - Chief Inspector Teal has a new protege: recent graduate and know-it-all Junior Inspector Desmond Pryke - whose academic experience (only) about police methods annoys both Teal and Simon Templar. Jewel thief Johnny Anworth sends off a jewel grab to a fence only known as the “High Fence”, and is promptly picked up. He is poisoned while in his holding cell and dies. Teal next finds thief Sunny Jim Fasson, and while apprehending him, Fasson is shot before Teal’s eyes. When Teal returns from trying to chase the killer, Fasson’s body is gone - with Simon Templar sitting in the spot. Teal and The Saint team up to identify and bring the High Fence to justice. Patricia Holm has a cameo appearance.

The Elusive Ellshaw - Florence Ellshaw appeals to The Saint to help bring her husband home. He ran off a year ago, and she has recently found where he is staying. The Saint looks him up, and Florence is found dead in the Thames, and a bomb placed in Simon’s apartment. Inspector Teal is interested - an identical bomb was found in the home of Lord Ripwell. Teal and Simon take a look around and find Ellshaw on the grounds; but no connection between Ellshaw and Ripwell is evident. 

The Frightened Innkeeper - Simon receives a letter from innkeeper’s niece Julia Trafford, appealing for help as her uncle is acting strangely and there seem to be intruders about their inn. Simon and Hoppy Uniatz check in to the inn to observe and figure out what the bad guys are up to.

Review: The novella length fits The Saint well, and fits a bedtime reading schedule well also. In High Fence and Elusive Ellshaw, Simon and Teal team up to good effect. Patricia Holm has a brief appearance in High Fence.  Hoppy Uniatz is at his best in Frightened Innkeeper, which takes a surprise turn - all evidence pointed to a seaside smuggling ring, but that is not what occurs. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Last Hero (1930)

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.