27 March 2007

The Saint books by Leslie Charteris

My first encounters with The Saint were with the Roger Moore series in black and white in the mid to late sixties and I came across the books my chance. Our neighbour was clearing stuff out following the death of her father and wondered if the young boy next door would like The First Saint Omnibus. I did, and 35 years or so later I still have it, only now I have almost all the other Saint books too (including those based on the TV series which were not written by Charteris).

My favourite editions are the yellow Hodder and Stroughton books (pictured) which I like for their simplicity (later editions have full artwork), the stick-man and the period look.

The Saint is an impossibly good hero; he can run, swim, pilot a plane, shoot, throw a knife, drive fast, escape Houdini-like, pick locks, and disguise himself. And all this on a practice routine that seems to consist almost entirely of drinking cocktails and smoking. But while the character is a little far-fetched the books are a great read.

The Saint stories fall into various periods (e.g. the early London stories featuring Inspector Claude Eustace Teal and the later globe-trotting adventures) but the writing style is consistent and combines a good plot, very descriptive prose and some laugh-out-loud humour. Just the sort of thing you need on the train to Reading!

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