Edition: Charter, 1964 (Buy from Amazon)
Review number: 985
The first full length Saint novel for some years turns out to mark an end point in the series; with the next book, the stories are lifted from the TV series rather than the other way around. As the title indicates, it pits Simon Templar against the Mafia in Sicily; when he witnesses a tourist rebuffed in a Neapolitan restaurant after asking an innocent question and then hears that the man has been murdered the next morning, he is convinced that a secret is hidden in the question and that he wants to do something to avenge the killing.
One of the interesting details of this particular novel is that Charteris seems to have finally decided to age the Saint - a decision reversed for the TV series, naturally. There are several references to the way that things might have been done differently had Simon Templar been in his prime - not that he doesn't manage to pull off superhuman feats of dexterity and endurance all the same. Perhaps too much so - the story, with its extremely powerful villains worsted by one man, is one of Charteris' more ludicrous.