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The Saint Plays with Fire (Saint 19) [Paperback]

Leslie Charteris
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Aug 2013 Saint 19

When the Saint and Patricia spot a country house on fire they rush to help, but are too late to rescue one man trapped inside. The dead man's door was locked, and Simon concludes there's a murder to be answered for, despite the coroner ruling otherwise. He launches his own investigation - getting engaged along the way - and soon gets caught up with generals, financiers, and an assassination plot designed to start a war.

Published on the verge of war in 1938, The Saint Plays with Fire is a striking condemnation of nationalism and the prejudices that both Charteris and the Saint despised.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (29 Aug 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1444766228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444766226
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 12.9 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 831,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Book Description

The Saint is back - the thirty-five original books starring the debonair classic crime hero are being republished in print and ebook with new introductions and extra content.

About the Author

Leslie Charteris was born in Singapore and moved to England in 1919. He left Cambridge University early when his first novel was accepted for publication. He wrote novels about the Saint throughout his life, becoming one of the 20th century`s most prolific and popular authors.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saint On Fire 20 April 2014
By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Unlike one of the other reviewers here, I don't find the title "The Saint Plays With Fire" duff, but that may be for personal reasons. I first saw the title on a newsagent's book-stand. It was the first Saint title I remembered. My acquaintance with the Saint until then had only been on television, and it had only just registered that there were books about the character. Not knowing what "playing with fire" meant, it struck me as appropriate for the exuberant adventuring that the character always shows. But though it struck the chord, it's taken me a long time to read this one, despite my having read many others in the meantime.

Has it been worth the wait? Very definitely. The novel runs at a furious pace. It took me only four sittings to complete it. Leslie Charteris' writing style is running full throttle. In some of his flights of fancy, usually aimed at deflating pomposity are right on the mark with the caustic wit, unlike in some early novels where occasionally they can get strained. What's more the book is very evocative of the late nineteen thirties when it was written.

The first chapter has Simon Templar and Patricia Holm driving home, listening on the radio to a Fascist rally. It's impossible not to feel a chill reading this, not least because the book was published in 1938 under the auspicious title "Prelude for War." But soon the Saint is in action trying to save someone in a fire. This is followed by a wonderfully drawn inquest. Then Simon is off investigating what is going on, dealing with the ungodly in his unique way until the book reaches a climax where he faces death and defeat.

As many have noted, most of the best of Charteris' writing was in the nineteen thirties.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saint Saga Nº 19 10 Sep 2013
By Paul Magnussen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Helping the victims of a devastating country house fire, Simon finds there is one he is unable to rescue. Soon he becomes convinced that the fire was not an accident, but murder. The mystery is: why?

"Prelude for War" (later plonkingly re-titled "The Saint Plays with Fire"), one of the best Saint novels, is very much of its time — i.e. just before World war II — and has echoes of The Last Hero and Knight Templar. It makes particularly clear the author's loathing of Fascism and everything associated with it.

The idea that wars are encouraged, or even engineered, by arms-manufacturers and others who stand to make a profit from them has gone in and out of fashion over the years. The Saint is a proponent of it, and even mentions (in a conversation with Patricia Holm) a book wherein this thesis is documented. I was interested to find that the book really exists, and finally ran it down*. It seems very well researched, and well-written, too: I wish there were an up-to-date version!

Anyway, I found this Saint episode unputdownable from start to finish. In addition to the usual friends like Orace, Peter and Hoppy, we have the pleasure of meeting what must surely be Charteris's loveliest non-recurring character: Lady Valerie Woodchester. To make her acquaintance would alone be enough reason to read the book!

*Merchants of Death by H.C. Engelbrecht & F.C. Hanighen, published in 1934 by Dodd, Mead & Co. (New York).

P.S. For a list of all Charteris's Saint books (in two sections, because of length limitations) see my Listmanias.
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