RogerBW's Blog

Meet the Tiger, Leslie Charteris 20 November 2014

In a small village by the Devon coast, a very strange fellow has moved into the old pill-box on the cliff. Excitement ensues.

This is remembered now as the first Saint book, but in 1928 when it was originally published there was no such intention: it was Charteris' third novel, after the now-obscure X Esquire and The White Rider (and before Bandit and Daredevil, published in 1929 presumably before the sales of Meet the Tiger had become apparent). Clearly it's pulp adventure, but being slightly earlier than the "classic" pulps (The Shadow, 1930; Doc Savage, 1933) and not intended to introduce an iconic hero there was perhaps less pressure to conform to the standard model of hero, team of sidekicks, and No Women.

What we get in fact is an intriguing combination of action and detective story. One of the significant people of this small village (the industrialist, the retired judge, the huntin' and shootin' lady, the doctor, etc.) is the bank robber known as The Tiger, and some of the others may be his henchmen; the reader is challenged, as in a good mystery, to work out who it might be. The plot builds from this necessary puzzle: loot from a bank robbery is stashed in the village, until it can be moved somewhere else for appropriate disposal (the scheme is a reasonably practicable one), and by locating the Tiger the Saint hopes to be led to the loot, which he can return for legitimate reward.

Most interesting, though, is the character of Patricia Holm: she's not just someone for the hero to fall for, she's someone entirely happy to share his adventures, and when he's missing and later believed dead she carries the whole story on her own shoulders for several chapters. It's clear that the Saint himself is a bit nonplussed by this, and one suspects that Charteris may have felt the character had got away from him somewhat: although he retained Pat when the book became popular and he wrote sequel adventures, she never again became the protagonist as she is here, she was often completely absent, and by the end of the 1940s she had been permanently shuffled off-stage. (The other female character here is described as "mannish" so very often that one starts to think it might be a double-bluff. I won't say whether it is.)

The inter-war period is an interesting one with hindsight; one notes that Charteris made Templar somewhat older than himself – though still too young to have seen action in the Great War, and of that generation that had missed the big show and wanted some excitement of its own.

There's plenty of action, and not all of it's fighting and deathtraps. The final body count is uncharacteristically small by pulp standards. Nobody would mistake this for a literary masterpiece, but it's good stirring stuff, and its approach to female roles is for the era entirely revolutionary.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Series: The Saint | Next in series: Enter the Saint

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1