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Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Saint Returns

I've been eager to share this news with Archive readers, but have had to hold back until everything was finalised - at last I've had the thumbs up and can now announce some exciting news.

Earlier this month the Bookseller Magazine announced that Hodder’s crime and thriller imprint Mulholland Books is bringing the Saint books by Leslie Charteris  back into print and eBook.

Well I can now tell you all that I am deeply honoured to have written the introduction for one of these new editions - I'm not sure which particular title my intro will go in, but I will let Archive readers know as soon as I do.

Simon Templar is a British fictional character known as The Saint featured in a long-running series of books by Leslie Charteris published between 1928 and 1963. After that date, other authors collaborated with Charteris.

Below I have reposted a popular Saint article that was first posted back in 2009- remember watch out for the sign of the Saint.


A person can be whatever they want to be - that's the philosophy of the Tainted Archive. Reinvention of yourself is easy if you follow a few simple steps. From time to time The Archive will show you how to become someone else, or at least appear to do so. And so The Tainted Archive goes all self help and shows you how to become a man like The Saint at the minimum cost.

1 - Clothes are important as is your style. Never never dress down and always make sure you are at your most impeccable. Even while digging the garden you should wear well pressed trousers and a comfortable shirt. And of course it goes without saying you must be clean shaven and your hair neatly combed with a side parting and slight quiff. These days this can easily and inexpensively be achieved with clothing produced in some sweat shop in a far off country and sold in most major supermarkets. Remember to remove the labels.The clothes may  look functional but just be careful of any sudden movements.

Always immaculately dressed.

2-The Saint lives in the most expensive hotels and is a connoisseur of food and wine. Whilst this may prove a little difficult for those of us not on a millionaires budget it can easily be bluffed. Arrange to meet your young lady at the most exclusive hotel in town and get there just before her. Go inside and as soon as you see her enter, yell at one of the hotel staff and storm out, grabbing your young lady by the arm as you do so. Once outside explain that their service is terrible and that you fancy eating downmarket for a change. In order to fake your skill with wines simply swish a mouthful around, roll your eyes and say things like, 'fruity', 'an interesting bouquet, or 'the length is impressive.' Food is much easier - simply order a steak with one sprout and call it something beginning with La followed by something unpronounceable.

3- You must maintain an air of mystery. To truly emulate the Saint you must create an aura of unpredictability around yourself. Always get up an hour or so before your young lady and sneak out, not returning sometimes for weeks on ends. Never say where you've been and always counter questions with other questions such as, 'has a bald oriental man been around looking for me?' or 'Life's too short. Let's go eat oysters and sip bubbly.' Another way to become an enigma is to jump up, asking if it's the police every-time the doorbell rings. When you do this slip a hand into your suit pocket as if you are reaching for a non existent gun. Whilst it is understood that some of these things will be difficult for a married Saint - it can still be done. Simply carry out the steps listed above but prepare yourself for divorce proceedings. Disappearing for weeks on end has been known to annoy certain wives.

Carries firearms and is an expert knife thrower.

4- The Saint is well traveled and you must be too, or at least appear to be so. Whenever friends go on holidays ask them to bring you some newspapers back and then when your bringing a babe back to your pad for some saintly loving, you simply place them at strategic points - in the bathroom, on the bedroom floor and always leave one opened to the stocks and shares section in the living room. Also photoshop your image over as many pictures of foreign cities as you can find and place them all in an album. It will also help if you photoshop an halo around your head. Visit the tanning place to work on your tan as you need to keep the hint of a tan the entire year long.

The saint was so superbly capable himself, and so arrogantly confident of his own ability.

5- You will need to always be prepared for sudden action. If you are walking down the street and you see a gang of youths terrorizing someone, don't simply quicken your step and vanish around the next corner (That's for our how to emulate Bob Hope lesson). You must walk up to these youths and give them a jolly good thrashing - always fight like a gentleman and never bite, kick or gouge even if a youth is twisting your tackle and trying to insert a blade into your kidneys. Insist to the youths that it must be a strictly honorable fight. Likewise you must not turn away if you come across a raging house fire with a kitten trapped inside. With no thought for personal safety you must run into the blazing furnace, coughing and spluttering with each step and them emerge, hopefully not too frazzled, with the kitten to the applause of onlookers. The really well prepared Saint will always carry a young kitten in his pocket for such occurrences - this makes it easier as you can simply run into the blazing inferno, count to ten, remove the kitten from your pocket and then emerge, holding pussy aloft to the same applause.

So there you have it - becoming The Saint is easier than you thought. Simply follow the above steps and you'll have women swooning over you, oriental masterminds trying to kill you and the police on your tail in no time....


Chap O'Keefe said...

Thank you, Gary, for amusing us again with your tongue-in-cheek advice on how to be a Saint! Over the past month, I've been re-reading all the Charteris Saint books from Meet the Tiger through to Vendetta for the Saint. Today I'm up to Thanks to the Saint (1958). Reading about Charteris' "amiable rascal" is infinitely easier and much more relaxing than writing more stories about my own fictitious rascal, Misfit Lil (whom I like to think shares a trait or two with Mr Simon Templar)!

As with you, the Saint was one of my boyhood literary heroes. I bought my first two Saint books, Enter the Saint and The Saint Goes On, in a church jumble sale at Ponders End, North London, when I was nine or ten. The distinctive red stick figure covers on the old H&S Yellow Jackets were probably what first caught my eye and imagination. Indeed, many of the copies in my collection today are in those Yellow Jacket editions from the 1940s and '50s, hardback and paperback. I also have a couple of prized first editions.

Will the stories have quite the same attraction for me as ebooks? Probably not. A lot of the appeal is in the nostalgia. And like many Saint buffs I greatly prefer the 1930s titles, set largely in England, to the later titles in which the "modern Robin Hood" becomes less of an outlaw and more of the glamorous, globetrotting, playboy-cum amateur sleuth-cum-private eye seen in the Roger Moore TV series and parodied in your post above.

I suspect Charteris, too, preferred the earlier Saint stories. They were firmly rooted in what I recognize as the Amalgamated Press, Fleetway House tradition. Most of the pre-War novellas were first published in the AP story paper The Thriller. I know from personal experience that Charteris advised scriptwriters for Saint comic books in the 1960s to use the earlier works as our model.

He also somewhat deplored the tendency for the Saint to be seen primarily as a detective, and this was even stated in some of the later stories, e.g.: In spite of everything I've tried to say," Simon Templar complained once, in a reminiscent vein, "I keep falling over people who insist on thinking of me as sort of freelance detective. They've read so many stories about private eyes that they simply can't get the picture of a privateer."

I wonder, was this an insertion by Charteris intended as a kind of remonstrance, or a warning to his team?

Many of the later stories first appeared in the Saint Mystery Magazine, and Todd Mason and other claim that, like the comic books and the books after 1963, these yarns were largely ghost-written, possibly by American collaborators who had cut their writing teeth on detective characters of their own in US pulps and elsewhere.

But enough ... I must get back to my reading and remind myself of the fate that befell "The Careful Terrorist"!

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Thanks Keith for the info- maybe we'll share a stake one day- we, steak