Fifteen lightweight but entertaining short stories of the Saint, wherein mysteries are unravelled, swindlers swindled, and many pints of beer consumed.
"The Export Trade", despite its inclusion here, must be set before the previous book, Once More the Saint, since the Saint has at this point never heard of the Green Cross bunch, who figure prominently in that opus.
"The Unblemished Bootlegger" is notable for introducing Simon's friend Peter Quentin, who reappears many times thereafter; "The Unpopular Landlord", my favourite, features not only Peter but old stalwarts Roger Conway and Monty Hayward; and Patricia Holm and Claud Eustace Teal are never far away.
Fans of Georgette Heyer or Damon Runyon (for example) will readily concede that it's not the plot but the style that counts; and the same certainly applies to Leslie Charteris.
P.S. For a list of all Charteris's Saint books (in two sections, because of length limitations) see my Listmanias. Comment
A REVIEW OF 'THE BRIGHTER BUCCANEER' by LESLIE CHARTERIS
Revealing both Leslie Charteris's versatility as a writer and The Saint's (Simon Templar's) versatility as a character, 'The Brighter Buccaneer' is a collection of 15 short stories of a decidedly light and frothy nature. Across the selected tales, The (law-avoiding) Saint seeks to out swindle a collection of unscrupulous swindlers who prey upon the vulnerable and gullible. Templar's 'victims' range from forgers to fraudulent investors to vindictive landlords, all of whom get their just desserts thanks to the skilful manoeuvrings of haloed hero .
Certainly there is a great deal of entertainment here. 'The Brighter Buccaneer' is very much a dip-in-and-out read, ideally suited for an odd half hour of escapism. However, owing to it frivolous tone, it cannot be considered in the same league as the best Saint novels, such as the previously-reviewed ' The Saint In New York'. Indeed, despite the quality of the very best of its stories (of which 'The Green Goods Man' struck me as the most creative and rewarding), the gathering of 15 similar yarns risks over-egging the pudding. Arguably, the best 7-8 stories, fleshed out with greater characterisation and depth would have made a more satisfying volume overall.
Nevertheless, taken in the right spirit (as a light soufflé in The Saint menu) 'The Brighter Buccaneer' provides far more hits than misses. Frustratingly, however, as the action hero figure of the more typical thriller novels, Simon Templar does virtually no fist hitting of his own here, despite the high quantity of yarns. Therefore I shall be seeking more of a punch with my next Saint novel...
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 !