Fan Fri (for mystery lovers): “The Saint” by Leslie Charteris



It’s Fan Friday for mystery lovers, when we take a look at a favorite detective or mystery-related subject.  Today’s detective:

Leslie Charteris’ “The Saint” – Simon Templar


Some interesting facts about Leslie Charteris and The Saint series:

1.  Charteris was born to an English mother and Chinese father in Singapore in 1907.  (His real surname was Bowyer-Yin; he had it legally changed in early adulthood).

2.  Charteris grew up in England, and left Kings’ College to start a writing career.  According to a Wikipedia article (which I haven’t been able to verify with a second source, so take it for what you will) Charteris had lots of other interesting jobs and activities, such as prospecting for gold and pearl-diving.

3.  He moved to New York, which he called “a case of love at first sight.”  Unfortunately, he had to keep renewing his 6-month visas because of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943), which did not allow immigrants with “50% or greater of Oriental blood” to permanently reside in the U.S.  Later, a Senate bill signed by FDR allowed Charteris and his daughter to go through the citizenship process and become American citizens.

4.  The first appearance of The Saint was in Meet the Tiger (1928), and continued through more than 50 novels (until 1983).  Charteris also worked as scriptwriter for Paramount Studios on several Saint films in the mid-1930s.


The appeal of The Saint:

1.  One man, righting wrongs.  No committee, no jury polling, no Miranda rights.  And he isn’t above a little law-breaking in the cause of justice.

2.  He’s elegant, handsome, sophisticated (and British – American women get all swoony over suave British men).  In the novels, all sorts of dames fling themselves at him.

3.  He’s rich and mysterious; no one knows where he or his money comes from.

4.  He lives up to his “knightly” name of Templar:  chivalrous, brave, putting himself in danger to fight evil – sort of a super-hero detective.


Beyond the books:

The Saint is everywhere!

Radio (yep, that’s Vincent Price, who was the voice of The Saint): 1944-51 (click here for the archive of free audio files):

image via

Television and film:

Above, from left to right: two of the films from the 1930s; the popular television series starring Roger Moore, which ran 118 episodes from 1962-69; the 1997 film starring Val Kilmer.

But wait!  The Saint keeps coming back…

The Saint Goes to New Orleans, starring James Purefoy, went into production this past summer.  No release date yet.

image via

Great sites for more info:

Bio of Charteris

IMDb – The Saint

Site for Simon Templar fans – a very comprehensive resource


Do you remember The Saint series on television?  Have you read any of the books by Charteris?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,




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21 thoughts on “Fan Fri (for mystery lovers): “The Saint” by Leslie Charteris”

  1. Nancy LauzonNancy Lauzon

    I totally remember Roger Moore as The Saint, he was uber cool. He didn’t make a very good Bond, however. Who can replace Sean Connery? Glad to know an updated series is in the works, I look forward to it.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Jami GoldJami Gold

    I love the Val Kilmer movie! (Seriously! I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it. 🙂 ) I had no idea about all this history behind the character. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Jess WitkinsJess Witkins

    I’m with Jami! I LOVED me some Val Kilmer movies. You don’t know how long I’ve been trying to convince my honey to go as Madmartigan from Willow for Halloween. The Saint is another good one. He’s very Bond. All the disguises and personalities and the play on saint’s names. Very intriguing indeed!

  4. Deborah WrightDeborah Wright

    The Saint is one of my favorite characters! While the Val Kilmer movie was good, I actually prefer the George Sanders films from the ’30s and ’40s, and Roger Moore’s TV series (one of his best roles). I’ve never read the books and unfortunately it looks like they’re out of print. It would be nice to see them released as ebooks.

  5. Tiffany A WhiteTiffany A White

    Ooo, I can’t wait for the new movie!! James Purefoy is adorable….I should really check out one of the books!

  6. LRHunterLRHunter

    Thanks so much for this information–I had no idea there were so many novels in this series. Sure gives us something to shoot for, doesn’t it?

    And I’m glad Charteris finally got to become an American.

  7. Natalie HartfordNatalie Hartford

    I am with Jami and Jess – love the Val Kilmer movie! I didn’t realize the novels in the series either but they look like great reads!

  8. Marcia RichardsMarcia Richards

    For me, it’s Roger Moore all the way as the Saint. Love that show! I guess when I watched the show it never occurred to me that there was also a series of books. I definitely would have read them. I wonder if they can be found anywhere.
    Love it when you delve into the past, Kathy!

  9. Ian DickersonIan Dickerson

    Unfortunately The Saint in New Orleans never got into production however I’m hopeful that a new TV show will start shooting later this year.

    What will be happening later this year for sure is that we’ll start releasing all the Saint books across a variety of digital platforms.

  10. Debra EveDebra Eve

    I love all the incarnations of The Saint and very much remember the Roger Moore series. Did not know Leslie Charteris has such an intriguing fellow. Thanks for the great overview, Kathy!

  11. Steven J. WangsnessSteven J. Wangsness

    I love those old pulp covers. Wouldn’t have been appropriate for my mystery “Tainted Souls” but perhaps for the next one. Thanks for a very interesting piece.

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