Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Avenging Saint by Leslie Charteris (1930)

Major characters:
  • Rayt Marius, a.k.a. "Angel Face"
  • Prince Rudolf
  • Sonia Delmar
  • Sir Isaac Lessing, Sonia's fiancĂ©
  • Heinrich Dussel
  • Alexis Vassiloff, a Russian husband-to-be
  • Antonio, the "Italian Delegate"
  • Simon Templar, The Saint
  • Roger Conway

The Saint is suspicious of Heinrich Dussel, who has brought an apparant invalid into his home, but it seems the invalid is there against his/her will.

Arch criminal Rayt Marius is working for a group of war materiel manufacturers, and hatches a plan to start war in the Balkans. He teams up with Prince Rudolf. The general idea is get Sonia Delmar, daughter of a wealthy American manufacturer, to bail out of her upcoming marriage to Sir Isaac Lessing, marry Russian Alexis Vassiloff instead, and go over to Russia; at which point the jilted Lessing will initiate war.

Heinrich Dussel had kidnapped Sonia to start the scheme. The Saint rescues her, but then allows her back into their hands in order to follow them. She is taken on board a boat and heading for international waters, where the captain will perform a forced marriage ceremony to Vasiloff. 


This is the sequel to "The Last Hero", and the two should be read as a pair. The Saint is still seeking revenge from the death of his fellow saint, Norman Kent, at the hands of Rayt Marius (in The Last Hero).  There are two great chase accounts, the first being to the ship in which Sonia is held captive; the second in which Roger Conway pilots a plane and lowers Simon on a moving train, in a James Bond-worthy incident. The plot to ignite war seems a bit far-fetched and hard to follow, but perhaps it didn't take much to get the shooting started in 1930's Europe.

The Saint doesn't get completely avenged - Rayt Marius lives to see another day, and no doubt another book.

Note some pejorative terms for persons of various ancestry, unacceptable today but in common use at the time.

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