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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

How Simon Templar became involved with an odd little Welshman

Hodder's Mulholland Books are in the process of reissuing all of Leslie Charteris's Saint novels in both print and eBook, and together with the forthcoming pilot for a new TV series based on the character it means that 2013 is shaping up to be a most Saintly year.

The Saint or Simon Templar was created way back in the 1920's, and like a select few other fictional characters has achieved true immortality - the character is reinvented for successive generations. I first became aware of the Saint from the reruns of the Roger Moore series in the 70's, and a decade later  I tuned into the Ian Oglivy revamped series. Of course I soon discovered the Saint's rich heritage - the old movies with George Sanders, Louis Hayward or Hugh Sinclair in the title role. It was these movies, far grittier than the TV series that set me off on a quest to read the original books.

The first Saint novel I read was The Saint in New York, and I remember on the first reading (I've read it several times since) being blown away. The fact that the book was so hard-boiled was a revelation  From there on I was hooked, I became a member of the Saint Club and started to pick up every Saint novel I could find. And later still I discovered the old radio series via Old Time Radio Web sites.

I guess you could say I'm something of a fan.

"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 on books until 1983; two additional works produced without Charteris’s participation were published in 1997. The character has also been portrayed in motion picturesradio dramascomic strips, comic books and three television series"

Last year Hodder's new imprint Mulholland Books started reissuing the entire Saint series of Saint novels in both eBook and Print format. Looked over by Ian Dickerson, president of The Saint Club and close friend of the late Leslie Charteris, the books are handsome editions with all new artwork featuring that oh so familiar stickman.

On June 20th this year The Saint in New York will be reissued with an all new introduction by a certain Gary Dobbs. I am thrilled and incredibly honoured to have been given the job of writing the intro - it makes me a small part of the character's rich heritage. I feel as if I've been bestowed with a sainthood.

Saint Gary Dobbs - ahh well, perhaps not.

So remember - watch out for the sign of The Saint - he will be back!


Davieboy said...

Interesting; do you know if there will be any audiobooks? Are there any good Saint radio shows out there?
I remember the Roger Moore TV series, sure I watched them all but cannot recall anything about the plot of any of them. Sounds like something I should re-discover.
Giong to have a certain musical phrase in my head all day now (raises eyebrows a la Moore...).

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Many of the old Vincent Price Saint radio plays are in the public domain and can be heard at

The BBC have done a couple of great Saint plays and these are available as DVD'S. And the new paperbacks are available now - Davieboy you really need to chase the character up. There are some great books there.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I meant the BBC radio Saint plays are audio and available on CD not DVD. Whoops sorry.

Davieboy said...

Great, thanks for the info, will seek them out.

Brian Drake said...

I can't wait to get my hands on these new books. It beats the heck out of spending a fortune on eBay.

And I can heartily recommend the BBC audio plays of their three Saint titles--The Saint Overboard, The Saint Plays With Fire, and The Saint Closes the Case. "Fire" is perhaps the weakest of the three as the narrative isn't very good and confuses me always. But the other two are great.

Hoppy Uniatz said...

Audiobooks are on their way. As are some other saintly items...