Saturday, March 13, 2021

The White Rider by Leslie Charteris (1928)

 The White Rider is the second of two novels which preceded the Saint series (The first being X Esquire). I was fortunate in finding both titles on eBay.

Major Characters:
  • Seldon, now deceased, accumulated a fortune in drug money
  • Marion Fenton, Seldon's step-daughter
  • Arnold Bracebridge, lecherous receiver of stolen goods
  • Bill Kennedy, police detective
  • James Haddon, New York City police
  • Simon "Peter" Lestrange, a Saint-like adventurer
  • Rev. Theophilus Gregory
Locale: England

Synopsis: Marion Fenton's stepfather, Seldon, accumulated a fortune (1 million pounds) in illicit drug money in New York. He has passed on, and the money was never found. Marion claims to have stashed it somewhere, but will not touch it on principle. She worked as secretary to Arnold Bracebridge, but quit after his repeated advances to her. She lives at Sancreed Manor, and there is a mysterious horseman, called The White Rider, who rides about at night in the vicinity.

Bill Kennedy is sent by Scotland Yard to investigate, and attempt to locate the money. He is accompanied by James Haddon of the New York City police.

Soon after their arrival, Bracebridge is found murdered in an abandoned cottage in the woods, and The White Rider had been seen nearby. Where is the 1 million pounds, and who is the White Rider?


Definitely this is a "first draft" of the Saint series, with our adventurer-on-the-edge-of-the-law Simon (hmm, even the same name) Lestrange. All the elements are present: fast cars of fictional makes, wild chases, a beautiful damsel in distress, booty to be had by bopping the ungodly.

A bit hard to follow who is speaking at times, with many references to a "Steven" who is never quite identified - he seems to be only a figure of speech.

A bit rough and repetitive in places, but quite a fun read knowing it was one of the two predecessor novels of the Saint series. Just remember this was 1928 when standards were a little different.

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