Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: The Saint in New York

So here's my official Goodreads review of Leslie Charteris' novel:

 The Saint In New YorkThe Saint In New York by Leslie Charteris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Worth more than a look. No swearing, no 'scenes', historical relevance about the problems of graft and corruption...and how to clean it up.

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Leslie has powers of detachment in description that haven't appeared in fiction for a good many years. There's something quite attractive in a character who's able to describe a bad American cigarette as "a sin against nicotine", whether or not you indulge personally. Historical anachronisms are even more fun, such as gangsters' molls: "it is a curious fact that few of the men who shoot their way through amazing wealth to sophistication in almost all their appetites ever acquire a sophisticated taste in femininity."

Are there too many descriptions of the Saint's amazing powers of mockery and trickery? Yes. Do we get the idea after the third repetition about the dangerous glittering blue eyes, that the Saint is...well....dangerous? Quite so. But every once in a while, the flower of genius blossoms out. This bit on prejudice and the helpless feeling of a good citizen is so currently apt, it shouldn't be glossed over.

(Regarding Mr. Ezekiel Inselheim) "Confronted by that shamelessly Semitic proboscis, no well-trained Nazi could ever have been induced to believe that he was a kindly and honest man, shrewd without duplicity, self-made without arrogance, wealthy without offensive ostentation. It has always been difficult for such wild possibilities to percolate into the atrophied brain-cells of second-rate crusaders, and a thousand years of self-styled civilization have made no more improvements in the Nordic crank than they have in any other type of malignant half-wit."

Can you beat that for clarity? I'm sure no one of Leslie's public were in any suspense as to his scathing views on Nazism.

"Ezekiel Inselheim was wondering, as others no less rich and famous had wondered before him, why it was that in the most materially civilised country in the world an honoured and peaceful citizen had still to pay toll to a clique of organized bandits, like medieval peasants meeting the extortions of a feudal barony...He knew, as all America knew, that with upright legislators, with incorruptible police and judiciary, the gangster would long ago have vanished like the Western bad man. He knew that without the passive co-operation of a resigned and leaderless public, without the inbred cowardice of a terrorised population, the racketeers and the grafting political leaders who protected them could have been wiped off the face of the American landscape at a cost of one hundredth part of the tribute which they exacted annually."

God has many great attributes, but one of my favourites is His absolute justice. It's not enough for Him to exact punishment for a short time - but for eternity. When thinking of corrupt politicians and crooked leaders, it gives me great satisfaction that they shall either be broken on the Rock and repent (therefore becoming entirely new creatures), or just broken. Either way, glory be to Him!