Going for the Golden: “Enter the Saint”

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Leslie Charteris is famous for inventing and writing full-length novels, novellas, and short stories on the character of the Saint between 1928 and 1963, including 20 just in the 1930s. Further, according to the preface to the edition used in the audiobook, written by Patricia Charteris Higgins, the author’s daughter, whom he named after the Saint’s true love, the Saint has sold over 40 million copies in multiple languages, three television series,15 films, 10 radio series, and a comic strip that ran for over a decade.

Enter the Saint introduces us to the beginning of the gang behind the Saint, who strikes fear in the hearts of criminals as “the Robin Hood of modern crime.” When he selects a target, the Saint dispatches notes with a stick figure with a halo around his head, building up fear and intensity among the criminals he faces. The Saint, whose real name is Simon Templar, refuses to carry a gun, but he will take on all at once five thugs with guns and walk away with their all being left injured on the ground in humiliation. He uses his glib speech and calm temperament to make a jest of everything in the face of enemies in the criminal world. He also has fun making ridiculous limericks taunting his enemies. He and his four team members appropriate all the goods of those especially cruel criminals they target, keeping 10% to pay for their own expenses and giving 90% to charity. This book contains three novellas that help us to get to know the original version of The Saint.

In “The Man Who Was Clever,” the Saint decides to target a drug gang, giving his opening salvo by beating up five of the drug syndicate’s thugs all by himself after they try to cheat him at cards. He then hands them his calling card, the stick figure with a halo over it. The Saint next intercepts a shipment of drugs and substitutes something else for them, leaving his calling card, which unnerves the head of the drug gang until, of course, the Saint and his cohorts win out.

In “The Policeman with Wings,” Roger Conway, the Saint’s most valuable team member, recounts to the Saint how his girlfriend’s uncle had a man try to buy his house. When he turned the man down, suddenly serious “accidents” start happening, followed by another offer to buy the house. Then a police officer asks the man to come with him, and the uncle disappears. Roger begs the assistance of the Saint to help catch whomever is behind the disappearance and save his girl.

“The Lawless Lady” focuses on the Saint’s assistant, Dicky Tremayne, who infiltrates a criminal gang, only to fall in love with the woman in charge of the gang. He struggles with his desire for “Straight Audrey” Perowne, so known for her refusal to involve herself in drugs. The Saint plays only a small role in this story.

The book of Enter the Saint serves as a fun introduction to the stories and novels by Charteris. I enjoyed the adventure and the Robin Hood angle to this book, a different focus of mystery stories than we typically encounter. The cleverness used to outwit the true criminals is a lot of fun, making this book move quickly.

John Telfer performs the audiobook of Enter the Saint and does a strong job at making this book seem even more adventurous. He used great expressions and intonations, and his depictions of the characters, most of whom we don’t see much of as individual characters, helps to bring the book to life.

I had a good time listening to Enter the Saint. This was my first exposure to anything about the Saint other than a merely vague memory of the 1997 Val Kilmer movie, which I have read did little to reflect the true nature of the real Saint stories and books. But I can guarantee that though it is my first Saint book, it won’t be my last. I give the first two stories 5 stars but the final story only 3 stars, so in average I give the book 4 stars.

To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.

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