Hank: You’ll have to hop far across the world to find a bigger fan of the late Roger Moore, the greatest James Bond of all time. (Sean Connery was a rough draft for Rog; Dalton and Brosnan pale imitations; Daniel Craig who?) Funny, then, that even though Moore got his star on TV as gentleman anti-hero Simon Templar (“ST,” hence “The Saint”), I had never actually READ any of the books in Leslie Charteris’ long-running series until now.
From 1928 to 1983, Charteris (and ghostwriting crew) wrote something like 50 novels/ novellas/ collections about the adventurous, debonair Templar, of which “The Saint Meets the Tiger” is the first. While vacationing in Devonshire with his Alfred / Jeeves, “‘Orace,” Templar unravels a tangled plot involving bank robbers from Chicago and a South African gold mine. If “The Saint” could only figure out which of the innocent-looking locals is Monstrous Mobster “The Tiger,” he would walk away with several millions, as well as with the plucky girl of his dream, Patricia Holm. What fun!
Beatricia: Hanky, the fact that you somehow think Roger Moore was a better 007 than anyone not named George Lazenby makes me rue anew the series of ill-advised decisions that have comprised my conjugal life. No Cherry to that. Or to this book.
Cousin Franz: Charteris would go on to disown this novel, which was written when he was 21. He had no reason to be ashamed. “The Saint Meets the Tiger” is a fun, if slight, romp. Sort of like Maurice Leblanc’s Arsene Lupin, but with a Wodehousian touch. At 21, most of us were struggling to fill up 5 pages with our incisive takes on Faulkner
Grandpa Felicius: Never mind “The White Tiger” and “St. Vincent,” here are Tigers and Saints I can happily endorse. Watch how Simon Templar summarizes his own character:
“Profession, gentleman adventurer, available for any job involving plenty of money and plenty of trouble, suitable for a man who doesn’t bother much about the letter of the law and who’s prepared to take his licking without a yelp if he gets landed. That’s me.”
When he DOES take a licking, toward the end of this caper, this is what happens:
“The (bad) man straightened and deliberately struck Simon on the mouth. The Saint did not move, and the man spat in his face. ‘I congratulate you,’ said the Saint in a low voice. ‘You are the first man that has ever done that to me, and I am pleased to think that before morning you will make the thirteenth man I have killed.’”
Bravo, old chap! Give them what for!
Tracey: My first Saint novel! I was brazing myself for all the appalling, ethnically incorrect embarrassment one gets from early 20th century “adventures.” (True confession, I expected the “Tiger” in the title to be some sort of Fu-Manchu, Yellow Menace, Inscrutable Squinting Mastermind.) I was pleased to find that Leslie Charteris, (aka Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin) was half-Chinese himself, and the Tiger in his novel is of the London variety. If you want to be horrified, know that for all of Charteris’ success, he was forbidden from becoming an American citizen due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, (an embarrassing, racist, 60-year additional stain on America’s horrendous anti-immigrant legacy.) An Act from frikkin Congress had to be issued to save the author from deportation.
Trent: When I opened this raggy book randomly, the first paragraph I saw was: “Lay orf ‘me good fellerin’ me! Caught in the yack, that’s wot you are, an’ jer carn’t wriggle out av it! Constible! Wot the thunderin’ ‘ell are yer wytin’ for? Look slippy an’ clap the joolry on ‘im! An’ jew jusurryup an’ leggo that popgun, or I’ll plugya!” Wha–? What’s that even mean? Sounds like this Leslie got puke-drunk and fell face first on the keyboard.
Blurbarella: “A Tangled Plot– Rue Anew– The Series Of– Reasons to be Ashamed– Of– America’s horrendous anti-immigrant legacy.”
4 out of 6 Cherries