"Also, speaking for myself, I should find a respectable life intolerably dull. It isn’t easy to get out of the rut these days: you have to be a rebel, and you’re more likely to end up in Wormwood Scrubs than Westminster Abbey. But I believe, as I have never believed anything before, that I am on the right road."
As far as rogues go, Simon Templar is quite lovable - too cute and clean-shaven for my liking actually - and that gets in the way of an otherwise not-half-bad story. Well, the story is not half bad if you remember that it was originally published in 1930 - way before the horrors of the atomic age became a reality which would haunt history to come.
If you can't bring yourself to remember this when reading this book then the story is somewhat tepid. Good guys chasing bad guys who threaten the world with an atomic cloud which turns everything it engulfs into ash...it has been done before.
I originally picked up this book because I like watching the re-runs of The Saint tv series - it's so cheesy and still quite funny and I hoped the books would be, too.
And this one does get full marks for cheesiness and fun but I have to admit I had a problem with the writing.
There are some fun parts, like...
"You might as well try to get a squeak out of a deaf-and-dumb oyster in a tank of chloroform,"
"Then he came whaling in and hit Mr. Conway on the jaw with great gentleness. Mr. Conway retaliated by banging the air two inches from the Saint’s nose."
and there were some very apt and moving notions...
"The people never make or want a war – it’s sprung on them by the statesmen with the business interests behind them, and somebody writes a “We-Don’t-Want-to-Lose-You-but-We-Think-You-Ought-to-Go” song for the brass bands to play, and millions of poor fools go out and die like heroes without ever being quite sure what it’s all about. It’s happened before."
but overall the simplistic style just left me wanting because it was difficult to connect Simon Templar, suave rogue and nemesis to criminals and crime fighters alike, with
a narrative that just did not mirror The Saint's level of sophistication.