The Saint is often called, “The Robin Hood of Modern Crime” but rarely has the phrase meant much. In the Saint movies and radio shows, as well as the most of the Saint TV episodes I’ve seen, he is effectively a crime fighter who fights with his own inimitable style. Of course, early in his career in fiction, the Saint was a bit of a thief, but when I read, The Saint vs. Scotland Yard,I found that early Saint robbing from rich ne’er do-wells but pretty much keeping the prize for himself.
Yet, in,The Saint Bids Diamonds, it all fits quite nicely. The Saint arrives in Spain determined to take on “the ungodly” in the form of a gang of jewel thieves. However, he finds some of the gang beating an old man . He and his thug of a sidekick, Happy, rescue the old man and his daughter. The old man is a jewel cutter that had been enticed by the gang leader to a life of crime and then double crossed and forced to continue to work as a jewel cutter. He escaped when he bought a lottery ticket that won the equivalent of $2 million, which the gang is determined to claim for its own, and it appears that they managed to swipe the lottery ticket from the old man.
The Saint goes undercover with the group to discover they officially don’t have the lottery ticket, the group is drowning in a safe full of jewels and plan to rob the American Ambassador’s wife to increase the pot. The Saint calls it a thieve’s Picnic. Yet, there’s trouble. The lottery ticket and its hope of big instant wealth has got the crooks all trying to double cross one another.
The story really does allow the reader to see the Saint as a mischievous angel against the unscrupulous ungodly, as he concocts one story after another to throw them completely off balance.
The story has some very funny moments. The only time the Saint gets in real trouble is when his self-confidence gets the better of him at the end of the book’s second act.
The Saint also shows his gallantry and sense of honor as he responds to the affections of the jewel cutter’s inexperienced daughter, Christina. Their final scene together is touching and nicely done.
Overall, the plot and characters are both enjoyable. The only weak spot is that much of the story relies on stereotypes about Spain and uses them frequently, as well as a term that has become a charged racial slur, though Charteres didn’t mean it that way at the time.
Despite this is a flaw, this is a fun read and a nice look at the Saint just before he became more like the hero we know him as today.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
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