Monday, 1 May 2000

Leslie Charteris: The Misfortunes of Mr Teal (1934)

Alternative title: The Saint in London
Edition: Pan, 1971
Review number: 486

Another Saint book containing three stories of his adventures, and another Saint book whose original title fits its contents far better than the later on - the action may all take place in Southern England, but most of it is in fact outside London. (I suppose The Saint in the Home Counties would have sounded silly.) These stories mark something of a change in the Saint saga; at their beginning, he is returning from the States. The American influence which really starts here - with these stories also introducing long running sidekick Hoppy Uniatz - reflects Charteris' love for the US and changes Simon Templar quite quickly into a less British, more American type of hero. (This process is pretty much complete by the end of The Saint in New York, entirely set in that city, and only two books separate it from this one.)

The stories deal with typical Saint themes, though there is a stronger hint of anti-establishment feeling than there is in most of the series; his adversaries include a group of eminent politicians who were war profiteers, for example. Some aspects of the stories have dated a touch, and even with the reminder that comes in the introduction written for a series of reprints in the fifties, it is difficult to associate 'the war' (and especially a German U-boat commander) with the First rather than the Second World War.

No comments: