Bet on the Saint
|Bet on the Saint|
|Author||Fleming Lee and Leslie Charteris|
|Unpublished; written 1968|
Bet on the Saint is the title of an unpublished novel by Fleming Lee (but credited to Leslie Charteris), featuring the character of criminal-turned-detective Simon Templar (alias "The Saint") who had been created by Charteris in 1928.
The novel was written in 1968, at a time when Charteris served in an editorial capacity overseeing a continuation series of novels and novellas that picked up after Charteris himself retired from full-time writing of the stories in 1963.
According to the book The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film and Television 1928-1992 by Burl Barer, Charteris and Lee collaborated on this novel, which was based upon a storyline from the earlier The Saint comic strip. The plot, as described by Barer, is one of the more science fiction-oriented Saint stories, and has to do with Templar attempting to stop the distribution of a performance enhancing drug that endows athletes with super-human strength.
Barer writes that neither Charteris nor Lee were particularly happy with the final manuscript with Charteris doing "copious rewrites". Breaking a pattern he had maintained for nearly 40 years, Charteris chose not to submit Bet on the Saint to his longtime British publishers, Hodder & Stoughton. Instead, he submitted it solely to Doubleday, the company that ran The Crime Club the imprint that had published the first US editions of virtually every Saint book since 1928. Doubleday also refused, which led to Charteris - for possibly the first time - offering first publication of the novel to other US-based publishers, as apparently the decision by Doubleday to reject the manuscript ended a long-standing agreement of the publisher having first refusal of Charteris' work. However, he was unable to find an alternate publisher and Bet on the Saint was abandoned.
Fleming Lee soon afterwards completed another comic strip adaptation novel, The Saint in Pursuit which after Charteris edited the manuscript, was accepted for publication by both Hodder & Stoughton and Doubleday/Crime Club as per usual and published in 1970 (and despite the end of the "first refusal" agreement, all remaining Saint books published under Charteris' watch up to 1983 would still be published first in the U.S. by Doubleday under their Crime Club imprint).
To date, this "lost" Saint novel remains unpublished and a copy of the manuscript is kept with a collection of Charteris' papers at Boston University.
This is one of two known Saint novels that were submitted for publication but never released to the public. The other was a 1979 work by Joy Martin (but championed by Charteris) entitled The Saint's Lady.
- Burl Barer, The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film and Television 1928-1992. Jefferson, N.C.: MacFarland, 2003 (originally published in 1992), pp. 213–215 (2003 edition).