Leslie Charteris' Capture The Saint
By Burl Barer
This exclusive excerpt of "Capture The Saint"
is published here by permission of the author, Mr. Burl Barer, and is
Copyright © 1996 by Burl Barer and
The Estate of Leslie Charteris. All Rights Reserved.
It may not be reproduced electronically or otherwise without
express, written permission.
The Saint Club is proud to present Leslie Charteris' 'Capture The Saint'
by Burl Barer. This all-new full-length Saint novel was approved by the Estate of
Leslie Charteris, and advance ordering is now available for the October 1997 publication.
Written by the Edgar Award winning author, Burl Barer, 'Capture The Saint' is a wonderful tribute
to Leslie Charteris' roaring adventurer, The Saint.
This Special Collector's Edition, published by The Saint Club, will consist of only 500 signed and numbered copies.
Capture The Saint
"Why are you still alive, Mr. Templar"
Simon Templar, alias the Saint, was only momentarily taken aback by the
one unreherarsed question posed by perky television talk-show host Connie
Cain during the live afternoon broadcast of Seattle, Washington's most popular
"Mythological characters such as myself seldom age at the going rate,"
responded the Saint cheerfully. "And if survival is the topic,"
offered Simon, "I have been shot at, shackled, handcuffed, gassed,
and interviewed by trained broadcast journalists -- the relative degree
of danger inherent in each being open to debate."
The small studio audience laughed warmly and applauded with approval as
the mildly bemused and professionally coiffed hostess signaled for a commercial
"You are very good at this, Mr. Templar. Do you do a lot of television?"
Her question seemed curiously genuine in contrast to the alternately sanguin
and sacharine couching of her on-air delivery.
"I find precious little on television worth watching," stated
Simon with disarming honesty. "But this is more fun than being either
shackled or gassed, although I was once grilled for information under lights
almost as intense as these."
"Did you talk?"
"Not a word," confided the Saint in hushed tones of mock severity.
"Of course, the unsavory individual asking the questions was sadly
bereft of your charm, grace, and intrinsic allure." Simon may have
been overdoing the charm, but the studio audience enjoyed the banter.
"When we come back from commercial," Ms Cain did her best to avoid
a slight blush, "we'll talk about the movie."
The movie to which she referred was about to have its auspicious Seattle
premier, and while the career of Simon Templar was once as well known as
any celluloid adventure concocted for any contemporary hero, it was not
a fictionalized version of the Saint's life that had received the Hollywood
The simple truth is that Barney Malone, semi-retired Hollywood producer
and established acquaintance of the Saint, spent a year on his knees and
several hours in a bar convincing Simon Templar to sell him the movie rights
to The Pirate, the Saint's singular excursion into the world of adventure
fiction. Written decades earlier and now creaking with age and bending under
the weight of unintentional anachronisms, the novel was at best a derivitive
pot-boiler distinguished only by the romantic escapades of its Hispanic
The intial sales of The Pirate had been more than respectable, an adjective
phrase never utilized in the descriptive prose published by the world's
press when documenting the extra-legal activities of its youthfull author
who, at the time of its original publication, was earning his international
reputation as the Robin Hood of Modern Crime.
The fact that a tag-team of screenwriters had rendered the plot and characters
of Templars' original story unrecognizable did not surprise him.
"I lost faith in films about the time of The Falcon," admitted
the Saint to Malone in only half jest. "I have far more faith in the
stability of the dollar and the morality of Monarchs."
The dollars Simon Templar was earning from Malone's cinematic adaptation
were more than enough to prompt the Saint to sit under the hot lights of
a television studio, banter with entertainment page pundits, and spend a
few pleasant days traveling the West Coast at Malone's expense to promote
the film's debut.
To those who follow the career of Simon Templar, it may seem tragic that
the exploits of the Twentieth Century's Brightest Buccaneer would be relegated
to the entertainment pages rather than dominating the headlines. The Saint
was perfectly pleased to be absent from the latest Seattle headlines --
a front page story detailing the death by gunfire of a weasle-like miscreant
who most often utilized the moniker Salvadore Alisdare. Simon Templar, the
affable and entertaining talk-show guest was the exceptionally singular
twist in the story; the one missing piece police were never able to place.
Simon Templar was not the last man to see Alisdare alive. That doubtful
honor was reserved for the individual who, luring him into a Madison street
alley in morning's wee hours, puntuated the climax of their distateful conversation
by puncturing Alisdare's lungs with several slugs from a .38 revolver. The
Saint saw both men prior to their eventful convergence, knew the outcome
of their meeting long before reporters detailed the events in print, and
was not the least surprised to read of Alisdare's death nor the subsequent
arrest of the cold blooded killer.
While it should be noted that the Saint seriously considered killing both
Mr. Alisdare and his murderer, Simon Templar neither encouraged nor arranged
the demise of Salvadore Alisdare. What the Saint had arranged was slightly
more creative -- a birthday surprise for Barney Malone.
An action packed sequence from later in the book
The vibration under Simon's feet and the intense
heat at his back gave him no reason to doubt the
effectiveness of his incendiary inventiveness. He
needn't look back for verification of the meth lab's
vaporization, nor for confirmation that Alisdare's
domicile was engulfed in a maelstrom of destruction.
There was only the clear path before him, the blacktop
beneath him, and the bright brake lights of the BMW as
his immediate goal.
Vi, however, knew what the Saint did not: a
smoking form emerged from the dust, flailing its
arms in wild concentric circles, throwing itself at
the 4X4 whose paint blistered from the intense heat
generated by the twin blasts. Milo, propelled past the
brink of madness, felt no pain when grasping the red hot
door handle and throwing himself behind the wheel. He
pawed the driver's side visor and an ignition key
plopped into his scalded palm.
Viola Berkman leapt from her car, waving and
yelling warnings at the Saint. Simon couldn't hear her,
but her body language bore sufficient augury. The Saint
turned to witness the big wheel's twin beams blast
through the smoke and see the spin of enormous tires on
The Saint ran towards Vi's car, she raced to the
passenger side, and Milo slammed a seared foot on the
accelerator. The 4X4 lurched, spun, and charged towards
the blacktop, its heavy tread seeking and finding sure
footing on the hard, dark pavement. Through heat baked
vision and dirt caked windshield, Milo considered Simon
Templar as a miniscule figure fleeing from certain
"Under my wheels!" Yelled Milo, "Under my wheels!"
The Saint could not hear Milo's rants, and had he
heard them he would not have been impressed. What Milo
perceived as Simon's unavoidable doom, the Saint
considered simply another of the evening's avoidable
The BMW idled in anticipation, Vi secured her seat
belt, and well before Milo was halfway down the
blacktop, the Saint was behind the wheel, in command,
and projecting an air of irrefutable confidence.
For Viola, the sight of the monster truck bearing
down on them served as adequate impetus for anxiety, and
the ease with which the Saint launched the BMW from
warmed standstill to tachometric intensity did little to
alleviate her understandable internal tension.
The dark road vanished under their headlights with
increasing rapidity, but Milo's massive tires and lead
footed approach to night driving gave his pursuit a
roaring dragonian ambiance of such ferocity that Viola
could almost sense the sinister hiss of an overheated
radiator steaming at her neck.
The Saint's fingers skimmed the black steering
wheel with deft precision and characteristic disregard
for inferences of danger. A signature whistle
melodically eased thorough his lips and his piratical
visage was wreathed in smiles.
"He wants to kill us, you know," noted Vi as if
offering a friendly reminder.
"He won't live that long," stated the Saint
optimistically, "and don't look back, it only encourages
Vi looked back anyway; the truck was gaining. She
turned to the reckless and unperturbed gentleman
piloting her conservative family car as if qualifying
for a stock car competition. She had no choice but to
surrender her trust to his rakish features and the
amazingly clear and mocking blue eyes gleaming like
chips of crystal. If she retained any hope for a happy
ending to the night's shenanigans, such faith was best
invested in the durable desperado with the might of
angels aligned in his favor.
"Before I forget," said the Saint conversationally,
"I want to tell you how impressed I was with your
performance back there. Had you not become a public
spirited rescuer of abandoned off-spring, you could
have had a career in theatrical improvisation."
"I minored in drama," she admitted with
distraction. Her fingers trembled, and her voice
quavered. The night's avalanche of relentless
anxiety was not the stuff of which her evenings
traditionally consisted, and for her to maintain an
attitude of relaxed nonchalance while being pursued by
a madman would be expecting a bit much.
Indeed, the ground pounding 4X4 with the singed and
sinister driver weaved wildly behind them from lane to
lane, attempting to gain advantage and pull either in
front or along side.
The Saint shot the BMW through the intersection
where the Woodinville/Duvall road met the miniscule
heart of the second city and pumped it full throttle.
The sizzling saboteur in the hydraulically heightened
road beast banged a peeling fist on the dash board as if
violence in the cab translated into increased speed on
the road. There was some truth to this superstition,
for the high-riding vehicle was cutting the distance
between itself and the import. This fact of unfortunate
logistics was not lost on the Saint.
"He must have one hell of an engine or German
engineering isn't what it used to be," said Simon dryly
and Vi felt obligated to offer a weak, if not
particularly comforting explanation.
"Maybe I'm past due for a tune-up."
Simon cocked an eyebrow at her self-
deprecating comment, squinted at the reflection of
Milo's headlights in the side mirror, and eased his foot
off the gas peddle. The BMW slowly decelerated as the
truck accelerated. Milo, enthused at his high-speed
progress, expelled a smokey whistle through his ugly
gapped teeth and aimed his charred grill into the
oncoming lane. In a moment he would be along side,
determined to fling his 4X4 full force against the sleek
sheet metal of the German import. Even though the
mighty vehicle was not his personal possession, he was
familiar enough with it to be aware of its more unique
accessories. He reached down under the driver's seat
and snapped up a decidedly illegal and fully loaded
He laughed a crazed coughing cackle and spat black
grit on the dashboard. The road ahead was clear, and a
spasmodic jerk of his scorched head allowed him an
inspiring view of the glowing red stain spreading like a
billow of spilled blood on the night sky's black velvet
The Saint monitored every miniscule movement of
Milo's high-rise motorized would-be weapon, calculating
speed, distance, and strategy. Milo's madness was
factored into the equation, along with his stupidity and
For Milo, it was if the enormous tires were infused
with demonic power -- each tread a rapacious talon
grasping hungrily at the asphalt, every inch of rubber a
hard-skinned reptile -- seeking their prey with
remorseless resolve. He was riding the back of the
beast, a pilot of death wielding fire and retribution.
He could hear the distant howl of hell-hounds rising in
his ears, see the swirling pyres of Hades licking the
The Saint perceived the same audio and visual cues
as Milo, but decoded them accurately -- the distant
howl, an approaching siren; the swirling pyres, a
Snohomish County firetruck. Simon eased the hatchet out
of his belt, lowered the window, and checked the side
mirror to ascertain Milo's proximity.
The two vehicles screamed around another bend, Vi
did the same, and when the 4X4 pulled along side, Simon
saw manifest madness, armed and dangerous, behind the
Milo extended his blistered arm full length towards
the open window, his charred fingers tightening on the
trigger. In one abrupt movement, the Saint threw the
hatchet and slammed on the brakes. Although Simon
Templar was more experienced in the art of hatchet
throwing than the average Seattle tourist, the
particular hatchet in question was neither of perfect
balance nor was it manufactured with throwing in mind.
It is adequate testimony to the Saint's strength and aim
that the hatchet, while not directly terminating Milo's
existence, sailed through the truck's cab with
sufficient force to painfully slice away the topmost
portion of Milo's right ear before disappearing out the
The sudden shock had a profound effect on the 4X4's
erratic pilot. For a brief moment, the wild fog around
his eyes and the swirling mist inside his head seemed to
evaporate in a bright crimson light. For the first time
since the meth lab burst into flames, the gap-toothed
lackey saw things as they were. Sadly, they were not to
his liking -- most especially the enormous oncoming
There was one icy moment of panicked indecision
before Milo's left hand desperately cramped the steering
wheel far to the right.
The truck's speed, the narrow road, and the sudden
swerve united in a coldly coordinated conspiracy to
capsize Milo's metallic monster. The squeal of tires
and screams of sirens drowned out similar noises made by
Milo himself as the 4X4 tipped treacherously on its
wheels, left the road in a sideways launch, and crashed
end over end. Before the first horrorific impact
with terra firma, a relatively small, bright flash
illumined the cab's interior. The shotgun in Milo's
grip followed the same over end trajectory as the
vehicle itself. When Milo saw himself looking down the
wrong end of the weapon, he wondered who could possibly
by trying to shoot him. In an understandable act of
intended self-defense, Milo pulled the trigger.
Burl Barer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Edgar Award winning author of
The Saint--A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film, and Television. You can visit Burl's
web site at http://www.burlbarer.com/.
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