Book Report: The Saint Meets His Match by Leslie Charteris (1931, 1944)

Book coverThis might have been only the second Saint book (or is it The Saint book?) that I’ve ever read. The first would have been a modern paperback (well, then modern) that I read in high school or thereabouts. It was one passed onto us by my Aunt Dee right about the time we moved into the house down the gravel road. We got a small stack of books from her–less than I would buy if I went hog wild at a church or friends of the library book sale–but my aunt introduced me to Ed McBain, Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire, which is the only Anne Rice I’ve actually read), and, perhaps The Saint. So it’s been a while.

In this book, which was apparently published originally as She Was a Lady and then as Angels of Doom before appearing with this title, The Saint pursues a woman who runs a gang who help criminals, but the woman is actually the daughter of a disgraced and deceased policeman wrongfully accused of corruption. She’s using her life of crime to go after those who set her father up, and Simon Templar, the Saint (or is it The Saint?) joins her in her quest. The Saint himself is a roguish, doing good but outside the law, figure himself, but he briefly joins the police force to get some information he needs. And they fall in love, of course.

It’s an interesting bit. It’s from the Depression era, but it’s set in England, and urban England at that, so it feels more hardboiled than an Agatha Christie book, with fights and a little gunplay here and there. The pacing, though, is more British than pulp, and it took me a longer time to read it than it would have a comparable hard boiled pulp. Although the density of the language probably mirrors Chandler more than Hammett, the argot is just foreign enough. So I won’t go out of my way to grab other books of the sort.

This edition is a late World War II hardback (I think). It is in an inexpensive binding similar to a Walter J. Black or other book club edition–and it’s possible that The Saint even that early had a Saint-of-the-month club (Remember, gentle reader, Doc Savage had a monthly “magazine” with a short novel every month). But this was an inexpensive edition even then–the title on the cover and on the title page are The Saint Meets His Match, but the tops of the pages say Angels of Doom. It’s a Triangle Books edition from the U.S., and the edges of the pages flaked off as I read it–I’ve never seen a book do that, and the pages are very dark. Probably inexpensive paper, anmd perhaps the book got wet at some point.

Still, better than a Jack Reacher novel.

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