Catch the Saint

Alas, my copy is paperback…

Catch the Saint
by Leslie Charteris

Simon Templar worked outside the law to bring justice that the police and Scotland Yard couldn’t. Active mostly in the 30’s, he battled all sorts of criminals, from gangsters to con-men. The world knew him best as the Saint.

This volume collects two of the Saint’s adventures: The Masterpiece Merchant and The Adoring Socialite.

The first adventure pits Simon against a fiend whose worst crime is convincing an old woman to buy a portrait that is worth no money – leaving her almost penniless, but confident that she now has a masterpiece. But as Simon noses closer, he uncovers a kidnapping and a plot that could cost the British government millions of pounds.

The second adventure finds the Saint in love… but possibly with the worst woman a man of justice could ever fall for. And while out on a date, he accidentally ruins an undercover detective’s cover… and now a police officer might be dead because of him.

These were both fun little adventures. I know the Saint mostly through the Val Kilmer movie of the 90’s and a few episodes of the old radio show. A note in the back of the book tells me that Leslie Charteris was the president of the original Saint fan club, which makes me wonder if this isn’t early fan fiction.

Even if it is “only” fan fiction, the stories are fun romps. There’s danger in play, and some grit, but you never lose sight of who the good guys and the bad guys are. It really felt like a radio show; I heard the actors speaking the parts in a way that doesn’t normally happen for me. I also loved the snide sense of humor.

I really don’t have a whole lot to say about this book other than that. It was fun, and I wouldn’t mind more adventures like these. They didn’t threaten the world; they simply told simple, fun stories with some danger.

I want to quote the entire last few pages, though, which are an ad for  “the Saint Club:”

The Saint Club was founded by Leslie Charteris in 1936, with the object of channeling the enthusiasm of Saint devotees into something more constructive than conventional ‘fan’ adoration. Subscriptions and donations, after deducting only the bare running expenses, at first went to the Invalid and Crippled Children’s Hospital in the East End of London, where for several years the Club maintained an eight-bed ‘Saint Ward.’

After the War and the nationalisation of hospitals, its support was transferred to the Arbour Youth Centre in Stepney, which was started by the Rev. D. H. Booth, an ex-Army chaplain who had carried the Saint figure as a mascot on his jeep through North Africa, Italy, and Germany. To this day the Saint Club’s revenues are passed on entirely to the Arbour, of which Leslie Charteris has since been elected Honorary President.

Saint followers who pay their modest dues enjoy such inestimable privileges as a membership card on the back of which is inscribed:

NOTE TO THE POLICE: The bearer of this card is probably a person of hideous antecedents and low moral character, and upon apprehension for any cause should be immediately released in order to save other prisoners from contamination.

It has been shamelessly carried by all sorts and conditions, literally, from schoolgirls to Scotland Yard superintendents to peers of the realm.

Anyone interested in joining such mixed company, for the sole benefit of a younger and possible a better generation, please write to:

And an address is given which I am sure is fifty years later now defunct.

However, isn’t that just a blast? I love the sense of humor, and defending the “modest due,” I think I’d pay just to get that card.

I think I’ll need to keep my eyes open for more Saint books!

EDIT: I a did a touch of sleuthing (you know, Wikipedia) and found out that Leslie Charteris created the saint as well as founded the fan club… so this ain’t no fan fiction, though this book (like many of its period) wasn’t really written by Charteris, but perhaps was edited by him. So, there you go.

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