Tuesday, 21 September 1999

Leslie Charteris: Enter the Saint (1930)

Edition: Dent, 1983
Review number: 330

Though not the first appearance of Simon Templar (that comes in Meet the Tiger, published two years earlier with a different publisher), Enter the Saint is the first novel in which he plays the leading role. After this, Leslie Charteris never felt the need to create another hero.

Like so many volumes in the Saint saga (as Charteris called it) Enter the Saint consists of three loosely linked stories about Simon Templar. Leslie Charteris happened to like writing the novelette length, stories containing about a dozen short chapters. This is an ideal book to see the early Saint, before Charteris fell in love with the States and Americanised him, and before a certain world-weariness set in. The Simon Templar of the early thirties enjoys life, and gets an immense kick out of the action he experiences as 'the Robin Hood of modern crime'. To the readers of thirties England, he must have seemed immensely different to the established heroes of other writers - to us, he probably recalls the bantering James Bond of the films (rather than the grimmer figure created by Fleming). It is not surprising that he was phenomenally successful.

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