(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

In Simon Templar, Leslie Charteris fashioned the perfect hero of popular fiction for the twentieth century. Templar, known by his sobriquet, the Saint, possesses all the modern virtues: He is bright and clever, but not intellectual; he is charming and sensitive, but not effete; he is a materialist who relishes good food, good drink, luxurious surroundings, and the company of beautiful women, but he lives by a strict moral code of his own devising.

Templar is “good,” as his nickname indicates, but his view of good and evil does not derive from any spiritual or ethical system and has nothing whatever to do with Anglo-Saxon legalisms. Rather, his morality is innate and naturalistic. He is one of the very fittest in an incredibly dangerous world, and he survives with aplomb and élan. Even when he becomes more political (serving as an American agent during World War II), he supports only the causes that square with his own notions of personal freedom. He is always the secular hero of a secular age. As such, he has lived the life of the suave adventurer for more than sixty years, in novels, short stories, comic strips, motion pictures, and television series. Moreover, because Simon Templar is not a family man, James Bond and every Bond manqué may properly be viewed as the illegitimate literary progeny of the Saint.

Leslie Charteris Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Barer, Burl. The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film, and Television of Leslie Charteris’ Robin Hood of Modern Crime, Simon Templar, 1928-1992. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1993. Comprehensive reference guide to the character’s many appearances through 1992.

Blakemore, Helena. “The Novels of Leslie Charteris.” In Twentieth-Century Suspense: The Thriller Comes of Age, edited by Clive Bloom. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Examines Charteris specifically as a crafter of suspense stories and analyzes the use of suspense in his work.

Greene, Suzanne Ellery. Books for Pleasure: Popular Fiction, 1914-1945. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1974. This broader study looks at the Saint as a popular character in general, not merely as the protagonist of mystery thrillers.

Lofts, William Oliver Guillemont, and Derek Adley. The Saint and Leslie Charteris. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1972. Discussion of the importance and representation of the Saint character geared toward a popular audience.

Mechele, Tony, and Dick Fiddy. The Saint. London: Boxtree, 1989. An examination of the many incarnations of the Saint, commenting on performances of actors who have played him, as well as his print incarnations.

O’Neill, Dan. “Time to Remember: The Sign of the Saint Left Huge Mark on the Thriller.” South Wales Echo, May 13, 2002, p. 16. Article discusses the creation of the Saint and the print, radio, and film versions as well as Charteris’s life.

Osgerby, Bill. “’So You’re the Famous Simon Templar’: The Saint, Masculinity, and Consumption in the Early 1960’s.” In Action TV: Tough-Guys, Smooth Operators, and Foxy Chicks, edited by Bill Osgerby and Anna Gough-Yates. New York: Routledge, 2001. Analysis of the Saint’s television incarnation from the point of view of gender studies and cultural studies. Bibliographic references and index.

Simper, Paul. Saint: Behind the Scenes with Simon Templar. New York: TV Books, 1997. Short book looking at the making of the television shows featuring Charteris’s character.

Trewin, Ion. Introduction to Enter the Saint. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1930. Commentary on the novel and its author by a famous and successful editor and publisher.