Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Books of 1932: The Saint vs. Scotland Yard by Leslie Charteris


The first book featuring the Saint, Meet the Tiger! by Leslie Charteris, was published in 1928. The Saint vs. Scotland Yard, published in 1932, is the eighth book published in the series. I found this book recently at a book sale. Serendipitously, it fit perfectly into the Books of 1932 challenge at Past Offences.

The Saint, aka Simon Templar, is not new to me. I have read books about the Saint and I am sure I have watched various adaptations over the years, but I don't remember a lot about any of them. So I was surprised at what I found in this book. I honestly don't know what I was expecting. This book consists of three novellas, so was a perfect re-introduction to The Saint.

The book was originally titled The Holy Terror, and that is exactly what the Saint is. The stories are lighthearted, sprinkled with songs written by the Saint. He has a female side-kick and lover in this book, Patricia Hall, who fully participates in the shenanigans. And that is how I would describe the Saint's adventures in this book. He doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. Throughout the novellas in this book, the Saint is feuding with Claude Augustus Teal, Chief Inspector of the C.I.D.

The bottom line is I enjoyed these three novellas, and I want to read more of the earlier books. John's review of The Avenging Saint at Pretty Sinister Books motivated me to look for books in the Saint Series. Sergio at Tipping My Fedora reviewed a later book of short stories, The Saint in Europe, and also covered the TV adaptations of those stories.

Quote from the introduction to this book, titled "Between Ourselves":
Then come with us.... the Saint and I will inspire you.
     We will go out and find more and more adventures. We will swagger and swashbuckle and laugh at the half-hearted. We will boast and sing and throw our weight about. We will put the paltry little things to derision, and dare to be angry about the things that are truly evil. And we shall refuse to grow old.
     Being wise, we shall not rail against the days into which we have been born. We shall see stumbling blocks, but we shall find them dragons meat for our steel. And we shall not mourn the trappings and accoutrements of fancy dress. What have they to do with us? Men wore cloaks and ruffles because they were the fashionable things to wear; but it was the way they wore them. Men rode horses because they had nothing else to ride; but it was the way they rode. Men fought with swords because they knew no better weapons; but it was the way they fought. So it shall be with us.
     We shall learn that romance lies not in the things we do, but in the way we do them. We shall discover that catching a bus can be of no less adventure than capturing a galleon, and that if a man loves a lady he need not weep because the pillion of his motor-cycle is not the saddlebow of an Arab steed. We shall find that love and hate can still be more than empty words. 
Some biographical facts from www.saint.org:
Born Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin in Singapore (then a British colony) on May 12, 1907, Leslie legally changed his name by deed-poll to Leslie Charteris in 1926. He died in Windsor, England on April 15, 1993 at age 85. His father, Dr. S. C. Yin was a wealthy Chinese surgeon, a direct descendant of the emperors of China during the Shang dynasty; his mother was English.
In 1952, Leslie Charteris married an actress, Audrey Long. The couple remained married until he died. She died recently, on September 19, 2014. Long had roles in many movies between 1942 and 1952. See this post at The Hollywood Reporter for more information.

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Publisher:   Charter, 1980 (orig. pub. as The Holy Terror, 1932)
Length:       274 pages
Format:      Paperback
Setting:      London
Series:       The Saint
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      Purchased.


20 comments:

  1. I can remember the TV series with Roger Moore as the Saint whilst growing up. I haven't particularly ever thought about the Saint since. I knew who the author was, but maybe thought the books were of the same era - 60's. I don't think I'll be looking for any myself.

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    1. It could be that these are not your thing, Col, although I think they changed a bit through the years. I will try some more, see what I think.

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  2. Tracy, I have only read about The Saint. He's quite a character and has a dedicated following among readers. I have a couple of Leslie Charteris' paperbacks that I haven't felt inclined to read so far.

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    1. Prashant, I was surprised how many different adaptations there have been of various Saint stories over the years. Movies and TV. Leslie Charteris was an interesting man.

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  3. Tracy - Oh, I haven't thought of these books for soooooo long. Thank you for the reminder. I need to revisit...

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    1. It has been a while for me too, Margot. It will be fun to look for copies of the early books.

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  4. The early Saint books are terrific. I recommend reading all of them. You might also want to check out John Creasey's thrillers featuring The Toff, another similar 1930s hero.

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    1. I do plan to read all of them, dfordoom, I just hope to find older paperback copies and not have to read ebook editions. I like that some of his books have 3 novellas, like a lot of the Rex Stout Nero Wolfe series.

      That is an interesting suggestions about the Toff books. I have read various books by Creasey, when I was much much younger, and I probably read from both the Toff series and the Roger West series. He was a very prolific writer. I will look around for some of the Toff series.

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    2. I don't like ebooks either. Fortunately the Saint books are in print in paperback form and the older paperbacks are fairly easy to obtain as well.

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    3. I will first look for old paperbacks with nice covers, then go for newer paperback versions. This one I just lucked into at a book sale at a very cheap price. Wish that would happen more often.

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  5. These are lots of fun (and thanks for the mention TracyK) and in many ways I think Chartersi may have have worked best in the medium or short length.

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    1. He does seem to do really well in the about 90 page length of each of these three novellas, Sergio. Looking forward to trying a novel too, though. That is probably the best description for what I have read so far... fun.

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  6. I binged on a dozen SAINT novels when I was a teenager. I don't know how well these books would hold up. As you point out, they were written 80 years ago!

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    1. I was amazed, George, that he started writing in the late 1920's. And continued for so long. I will be interested in trying some from later years too, but for right now will concentrate on the earlier books. As long as they entertain me.

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  7. Most of the Saint books are now available in trade paper, do a quick search on Amazon and you will find them. I don't think this one is typical of The Saint, who in most of the books is a loner, though often with a romantic interest of some kind. The short works are better, I think, than the novels. I have several of both and am working my way through.

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    1. It is great that the books are easily available, Richard. That is encouraging. Looking forward to experiencing some of the different adventures. This wasn't what I expected but still enjoyable to read.

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  8. Like Col, I remember the TV series: I think I knew there were books, but I wouldn't have been expecting much of them, but your review makes me want to try one...

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    1. Moira, I think there is a lot of variability in style and subjects in the Saint novels and stories over the years. Don't know what I will find when I try other books, although I expect the earlier books to be similar. One of the books (reviewed at Pretty Sinister Books) is called The Avenging Saint, and that is what I was expecting, and a more serious tone. These novellas are fun, and silly at times, and different.

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  9. I've never read a Saint book. I used to love the TV series over here though.

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    1. I am going to have to watch some of that series again soon. I can't remember much about it.

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