Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"The Perfect Sucker", by Leslie Charteris

From: Thanks to the Saint, Pocket Books, 1957.

Sometimes Simon Templar, better known as The Saint, isn't looking for trouble. Sometimes he just wants to kick back, relax, and enjoy himself. And it's true that there's nothing he likes better than seeing come to a just end, that wears on a man. Sometimes he just wants to go fishing.

Which he does, at a fishing camp on the Rogue River in Oregon. But his trip turns into a busman's holiday when he's taken for a mark by a couple of crafty con men working a sweet scheme. Or so it seems...

The Saint stories have a unique charm and are great entertainment, despite the fact that Simon Templar himself should come across as an insufferably smug English twit. He comes across as a wittier James Bond - a jack of all trades, admired by men, irresistible to women, etc etc, righting wrongs for his own amusement instead of Queen and country. But just this once he nearly puts his foot in it, and badly enough that he'd never forgive himself. As usual, chance smiles upon him, and he eventually finds a way to put things right.

These stories are nearly forgotten today, but I can't recommend them enough. Especially good is The Best of The Saint, Vol. 2, with a forward by Sir Roger Moore.

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