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Paperback The Saint Meets the Tiger Book

ISBN: 0441524117

ISBN13: 9780441524112

The Saint Meets the Tiger

(Part of the The Saint (#1) Series and Le Saint (#70) Series)

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Format: Paperback

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Insouciant adventurer seeks new pleasant accomodation, fortifications a plus. Must have exciting local diversions, such as hunting genius assassins, readily available. All real estate with personable young women as neighbours, along with esteemed after dinner drinks companions will be viewed highly favorable. Seaside air an added bonus.

Saint Saga #01

"Meet The Tiger" (later retitled "The Saint meets the Tiger") published in 1928, was Leslie Charteris's first book in the Saint Saga (even though Hodder & Stoughton later pretended that Enter the Saint was, presumably because they weren't the publishers of the former). It's a useful (though not infallible) rule of thumb that if a book doesn't hook you by the end of the first page, it's not going to. Here are the first two paragraphs of "Meet the Tiger": `Baycombe is a village on the North of Devon coast that is so isolated from civilisation that even at the height of the summer holiday season it is neglected by the rush of lean and plump, tall and short, papas, mammas, and infants. Consequently, there was some sort of excuse for a man who had taken up his dwelling there falling into the monotony of regular habits -- even for a man who had only lived there for three days -- even (let the worst be known) for a man so unconventional as Simon Templar. It was not so very long after Simon Templar had settled down in Baycombe that the peacefully sedate village became most unsettled, and things began to happen there that shocked and flabbergasted its peacefully sedate inhabitants, as will be related; but at first Simon Templar found Baycombe as dull as it had been for the last six hundred years.' Not the greatest opening Leslie Charteris ever wrote -- he was to become pretty skillful later -- but quite respectable for a young man of 21 in only his third book. The character so introduced, of course, was to become the longest-running fictional hero of the 20th century. Even at this early stage, the Saint (plausibly from his initials -- but you knew that) is a more well-developed, more travelled and certainly more eccentric character than his near-contemporary, Bulldog Drummond. There are few of the wilder parts of the world which he has not visited, and few of those in which he has not had adventures. He has won a gold rush in South Africa, and lost his holding in a poker game twenty-four hours later. He has run guns into China, whisky into the United States and perfume into England. He deserted after a year in the Spanish Foreign Legion (Drummond would have been horrified at the idea of joining, let alone deserting). Likewise Patricia Holm, the Saint's companion in so many later adventures, is a much more interesting heroine than boring little Phyllis Drummond, who exists only to be kidnapped and rescued -- someone whom the swine have got, or might get, and nothing more. The elements of the plot are pretty much the standard stuff of the day: a debonair hero for the reader to identify with; a million dollars in gold stolen from a Chicago bank by a mysterious mastermind known as The Tiger; a gang of ruthless criminals; and of course a damsel in distress. What separates this from the majority of such efforts is the way Charteris plays with these elements -- tongue clearly in cheek, in places -- and weaves a story that carries you along from

A great start, a flawed book

"Meet the Tiger", as my old copy calls this, introduces us to Simon Templar and a selection of his cohorts. The Saint (as he becomes known) is drawn with very broad brush-strokes in this first outing, but he is clearly the character that became one of the top fiction characters of a generation or two. Darker than he would later be in the 30s books (although no the cypher he eventually became once the war started), the Templar of "Meet the Tiger" has all the charm of the later Saint, while lacking the moral ambiguity that later made him such a favourited. In short, he's a crook, who transcends his criminal tendencies through (let's be honest) lust rather than a higher moral code - a personality error that was quickly fixed by Charteris. A real plus for this book is that Charteris had yet to fall into the trap of clumsy, polysyllabic hunmour that marred some of his other works. He tells the story and tells it straight - and it's (in the best sense) a ripping yarn. They don't write them like this anymore - it's like a bridge between Bulldog Drummond and James Bond.

Where it all began...

THE SAINT MEETS THE TIGER (originally entitled simply MEET THE TIGER) was Leslie Charteris' very first novel about his now long-running series hero Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". First published in 1928, certainly it is somewhat dated. Still, the setting is interesting, the mystery at least clever, and the characters range from impressive (Templar himself and Patricia Holm), to stereotyped but delightful ('Orace), to a little ctoo much P.G. Wodehouse/Bertie Wooster in many of the supporting players. That being said, THE SAINT MEETS THE TIGER is a rousing debut, and this early Simon Templar is much harder and more resourceful than his later television incarnation, while at the same time his optimistic determination and rakish smile continue to amuse and delight. Charteris followed MEET THE TIGER with some "prequel" Saint short stories, and then perfected his hero in a series of novels about the encroaching war. A couple of other strong Saint novels (and several perfect short stories) followed, before the character lapsed into formula. Still, there were a few gems in those later decades-- and The Saint has been around a very long time. Still, THE SAINT MEETS THE TIGER was first, and should be experienced.
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