Saturday, 5 January 2002

Leslie Charteris: The Saint and the Fiction Makers (1969)

Edition: Coronet, 1972 (Buy from Amazon)
Review number: 1025

The third Saint book to be made up from scenarios from the TV series contains just a single story, lengthened to a full novel. It is not entirely typical, containing the kind of ironic self reference more associated with The Avengers than the more straightforward action of most Saint stories.

Both novel and TV show open with a depiction of a non-Saint adventure; in the original version, this had greater impact, because it looked as though the wrong piece of film was being shown. In fact, Simon Templar is present at the première of the latest in a series of films in which Charles Lake battles against the evil S.W.O.R.D. (Secret World Order for Revenge and Destruction). He has accompanied the dumb blonde starlet who is the film's love interest, but at the end of the film is more interested by a conversation with the publisher of the original novels on which the movie is based.

When the two of them are attacked, Simon immediately accepts the proposition that has been made to him, which is to protect reclusive author Amos Klein. Travelling to a secret address, the Saint discovers the writer to be a pretty woman, but is kidnapped alongside her by a megalomaniac who has recreated her description of S.W.O.R.D. headquarters in every detail and now wants to have Simon, whom he assumes to be Klein, plan an attack on a security company's supposedly impregnable gold vaults.

The Saint and the Fiction Makers is, of course, far fetched; but it is exciting and, in its commentary on the fashions of its own genre, humourous.

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