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on 16 June 2013
Most people are probably more familiar with The Saint in the shape of the Roger Moore TV series or Val Kilmer movie, but before this The Saint, aka Simon Templar, began life as a 1930's pulp fiction style thriller. The stories are fast pace and wonderfully written although the themes and concepts seem very old fashioned it must be remembered that some of these stories are over 80 years old now. So if you want some kind of modern day James Bond/Mission impossible character pass them by,however if you're looking for a good old fashion ripping yarn written with impeccable language read on !
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on 21 June 2013
Written a long time ago, this sometimes comes across as a little wordy by modern standards, but the characters shine through. I would recomend all the Saint books written before 1950. This one is excellent.
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on 5 June 2014
I just want to make a general appreciation of the fact that these wonderful books are back in print - with excellent introductions by crime writers and other enthusiasts. These books which are not sufficiently well known these days are up there with P G Wodehouse, better than James Bond and much better than almost anything else in their genre.

I know of many people who will tell you that their lives, attitudes and resilience have benefitted from an early acquaintance with Simon Templar. Well, now he's back for a new generation. The Saint Goes On !
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I find myself reacquainting myself with the Saint after I long while. I came to him via the Roger Moore TV series and later read many of the Leslie Charteris books that inspired it. Sir Roger's portrayal of Simon Templar remains, for me, the definitive portrayal of the character on screen, even though it is very much of the Saint in the post Second World War period who is less exuberant than in the nineteen thirties when Charteris' writing was at its peak. The Saint in the thirties is also more ruthless, prepared to murder, torture, rob and blackmail in his earlier adventures, even if still on the side of justice.

"The Saint Closes the Case" comes very early in the Saint Saga. It is an entertaining caper written in a pacey manner which in some ways resembles that of writers like Sapper. Except Charteris' style perhaps survives the test of time better, having fewer of the jingoistic characteristics that now seem dated, and even offensive to contempary tastes. Simon Templar also lives with his girlfriend, Patricia Holm, in an open relationship that then would have been deemed scandalous in conventional circles. She, if not quite the modern woman, or a Modesty Blaise type heroine, is still much closer to the independent woman of today. And if there are aspects of writing style that still seem dated, or suggest the author cutting his teeth, that was very soon to change. The Saint novels written of only a few years later such as my absolute favourites, The Saint in New York (Saint 15) and The Saint Plays with Fire (Saint 19) have a more honed style.

That noted, it takes little from the novel here. "The Saint Closes the Case" is a lively and pacey read, as Simon and his friends decide to put a stop to a new weapon which has some science fiction elements. This idealistic operation is hampered by various elements of the ungodly in the form of Rayt Marius who is working for Prince Rudolf, as well as the government and even Scotland Yard in the form of Chief Inspector Teal. There are many twists and turns together with the Saint's irrepressible, giddy humour, together with a brutal climax, which may in part explain why the books original title was "The Last Hero." This is probably meant to be Simon Templar, but at the same time it may also refer to another member of his gang.

Though I've read quite a few Saint books, I hadn't read "The Saint Closes the Case" before this time. Re-acquaintance with the character has been pure pleasure. Unusually, for Saint books, this book has a sequel in The Avenging Saint (Saint 04). I look forward to reading that also for the first time.
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For my money, "The Last Hero" (aka "The Saint Closes the Case") is the best of all the Saint books. On one level merely a good thriller, on another level it's a very serious book indeed, because it deals with the horrors of war and what it's worth sacrificing to avoid them; and its great merit is that it makes its points without ever becoming preachy or leaden.

Kingsley Amis, in his insightful and entertaining opus The James Bond Dossier, expends considerable space on considering what goes into the making of a good villain. Charteris's best villains are easily the equal of Fleming's, and "The Last Hero" has two them!

One may safely invent a sinister arms merchant from any country (although Rayt Marius is much more sinister than most). To present a sinister head of state, however, presents a problem: obviously one can't use a real head of state, for reasons of both plausibility and libel. There are two traditional solutions, both moderately unsatisfactory: to invent a fictional country, which will irritate any reader with the basics of geography; or to be mysterious about which state it actually is. Charteris here opts for the second alternative, and great villain though Marius undoubtedly is, for me Crown Prince Rudolf of ---------- is the best in the whole Saint Saga.

(It is of course logically pointless to try and work out what the country really is, but it's quite fun trying anyway, which Charteris obviously realises as he plants clues in various places. It's somewhere in the Balkans. The Saint doesn't yet speak the language, which therefore can't be French, German or Spanish. The Prince is Marius's own prince, and Marius was once a guttersnipe in the slums of Prague; on the other hand, we later learn that the Prince's appendix is in Budapest. The most telling clue [not divulged 'til Getaway] is that the Prince's family owned the Montenegrin crown jewels. [King Nikola of Montenegro might in fact be the prototype of Rudolf's father, were not the time-frame all wrong. This is cool juggling. How many readers are familiar enough with Montenegrin history to know whether he did in fact have son called Rudolf?] )

Professor K.B. Vargan has invented a weapon called the Electron Cloud, able to incinerate large numbers of people in minimum time. The British Government wants it, and so does Prince Rudolf, who has military ambitions. The story revolves around the efforts of the Saint and his friends to keep the weapon from ever being used at all, for the sake of the men and boys "who'd just be herded into it like dumb cattle to the slaughter, drunk with a miserable and futile heroism, to struggle blindly through a few days of squalid agony and die in the dirt".

The familiar friends — Orace, Pat, Roger, Norman — are all here. Charteris was later dismissive of his early work, as older authors often are. But whatever its deficiencies, this book and its sequel Knight Templar have a drive and fire, and an idealism (eccentric though it be), that lifts them above the mundane.

N.B. Contrary to the assertion on this page, this is 3rd Saint book, not the 2nd.

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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on 31 July 2013
There's only one Simon Templar, and this book is about the 'real' one, not the sanitized TV version. I'm intending to try to get every one of The Saint books downloaded to my Kindle!
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on 15 April 2014
We've all heard of Simon Templar (if you're over 30, at least) through TV and film, but very few have read the books. And it's not surprising. Charteris wrote them starting in his early 20s - and there's a reason these remastered editions start at 02 not 01; Charteris himself considered the first volume "Meet - the Tiger!" too bad for words.

The style is florid and rotund. Very, very different from today's taut thrillers, where short sentences and chapters are almost a requirement. There's a lot of exposition and not much dialog: when the Saint speaks, to our ears it sounds dandyish, fey verbal meanderings from a foppish twist. Of course, in the 1930s "The gayest man in Europe!" didn't have quite the same undertones to it.

So here's the point - don't read these and expect a sophisticated modern thriller. They're old books, heritage fiction: read them as you would a history textbook, to get an idea of where thrillers were going as the genre first stirred. You won't regret it.
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on 14 December 2014
Re-read after many years, I found this tale wordy, old-fashioned, fantastical & preachy. Charteris had to start the Saint off somewhere, & he did get better as the series went on. This one is best viewed as a piece of crime fiction history, I think. (Tony Kerrison on F's Amazon site).
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on 1 July 2013
I read the entire collection as a child and am looking forward to rediscovering this charming character once more, I would certainly recommend to others.
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The forward will help you to anticipate what you are about to read in this book and the next two books as even though each book is a complete in its self they are but part of a larger whole story.

The book may have been re-written as is the habit with many authors. That is why you keep your originals. It is too late for me on this title; however it is still quite an intriguing read of kidnapping and secret weapons.
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