Vendetta for the Saint

Vendetta for the Saint is a 1964 mystery novel featuring the character of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". Vendetta for the Saint was the first full-length Saint novel published since The Saint Sees it Through, 18 years earlier. A television adaptation of the novel was released as a theatrical film, also entitled Vendetta for the Saint, in 1969.

Vendetta for the Saint
1964 American hardback
AuthorHarry Harrison
(based upon characters created by Leslie Charteris)
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesThe Saint
PublisherThe Crime Club
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded byThe Saint in the Sun 
Followed byThe Saint on TV 

Development edit

Vendetta was the first Saint volume published after Leslie Charteris, who created the character in 1928, stopped writing the adventures himself. Charteris was credited as the author and remained as editor, approving stories and revising material when needed, but the novels were largely written by other authors. These books were mostly based on the TV series comic strip; the next wholly original Saint literary stories were not published until the novella collection Catch the Saint more than a decade later.

Vendetta was written by Harry Harrison, a noted science fiction author who also wrote the syndicated Saint comic strip. In an interview, Harrison claimed that Charteris contributed in a very minor way.[1]. The reference work The Saint: A Complete History by Burl Barer, however, indicates that Charteris was heavily involved in editing the book.

Plot summary edit

Set on the island of Sicily, the story shows a slightly older, more mature Saint. Although still a formidable opponent for any criminal, he will not storm into action but choose his moments more carefully.

On holiday in Naples, Templar witnesses an argument in a restaurant; an English tourist greets an Italian businessman as an old friend, but the Italian claims never to have met him. When the businessman's bodyguard attacks the Englishman, the Saint intervenes. The Italians leave. Templar learns that the Englishman, Euston, is absolutely certain the Italian Businessman was his old friend Dino Cartelli.

Next morning, Templar sees an obituary for Euston in the local newspaper. Apparently the man had an unfortunate accident. Suspicious, the Saint starts an investigation. He discovers that Dino Cartelli was a faithful bank employee, brutally murdered by bank robbers years ago. His face and hands were mutilated beyond recognition. He also learns that the businessman is Alessandro Destamio.

Next day, a limousine arrives at the hotel and the Saint is courteously invited to have a meeting with Mr. Destamio. He is flown to Destamio's private island, and Destamio introduces himself as a businessman with many enemies who takes his privacy very seriously.

Back in Naples, the Saint is attacked by a street robber. The police arrive and take them to the police station for questioning, where the police accuse him of attacking the robber. Luckily a senior officer, Inspector Ponti, arrives, dismisses the Saint and even recommends him a good restaurant for lunch. The Saint understands it is a veiled invitation, and waits for Ponti at the restaurant. Ponti explains that the Saint is up against the Mafia. They will try to hunt him down and the police cannot be trusted. Ponti will be his only ally.

The Saint visits Destamio's family, including the lovely Gina. At night, he visits the mausoleum of the Destamio family, but before he can investigate the grave inscriptions he is clubbed unconscious.

Captured in a castle, at the mercy of the Mafia, the Saint is brought to the head of the Mafia, who is seriously ill. It appears Destamio aims to be his successor, but he has to defeat other candidates who wonder why Destamio has brought the Saint to their headquarters. It appears that Destamio claims to be from a worthy family, which the Saint might dispute.

Returned to his cell, the Saint manages to untie his ropes and climbs out of the dungeon. Pursued by gangsters, he descends from the castle hill and starts running through the Italian countryside. During the chase, the Saint has brief encounters with locals who help him, but their fear of the Mafia is all-apparent. A local barber manages to conceal him and tells him to leave as soon as possible. Bus passengers on the Palermo bus stay clear of him, realizing he is on the Mafia's hit list.

The Saint manages to reach Palermo and contacts Ponti. Then the tables can be turned. Ponti has mobilised a secret military strike force, ready for battle and very grateful to learn from the Saint the location of the Mafia headquarters.

The Saint joins the attack on the castle. Although the castle is surrounded, the Mafia succeeds in breaking through the perimeter with a bullet-proof car. The army commander, the Saint and Ponti start the pursuit. When they cross through Palermo, they discover they have chased the car too long and the head men must have sneaked out. When driving back, the Saint leaves the car and sends Ponti to call reinforcements.

The Saint enters the house where the Mafia top men have gathered. He is able to corner them, but before he can thoroughly question Destamio he is again surprised by the wife of one of the mafiosi. After that the army troops arrive and although several top men are arrested, Destamio again escapes through a back garage.

The Saint realizes he can only go to one other place and sets off for the Destamio mansion. There he finally confronts Destamio. Confronted by the Saint, he admits his real name is Dino Cartelli. He offers the Saint a bribe in return for his freedom. The Saint lets him go, straight into the hands of arriving police troops.

In other media edit

Television edit

Vendetta for the Saint was adapted as a two-part episode of The Saint, and was broadcast during the programme's final season on January 5 and 12, 1969.[1] Roger Moore played Simon Templar. After the series ended, the two episodes were edited together as a movie that was distributed theatrically in Europe and was also released to TV and, much later, home video.

The TV series adapted a number of Charteris' original Saint stories and novels during its run; Vendetta for the Saint was the last of these adaptations to be broadcast, and the only one not based upon a solo Charteris work. It is also one of only four full-length novels to be adapted for the series.

Location shooting took place in Malta, for the producers were afraid of shooting a movie with a Mafia theme on location in Naples or Sicily.

References edit

  1. ^ Gaughan, Gavin (25 August 2012). "Harry Harrison: Writer of sci-fi novels who created the popular anti-hero the Stainless Steel Rat". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 August 2022. Retrieved 5 October 2012. was made as a two-part story in the ATV/ITC series starring Roger Moore (and, edited, released in cinemas outside Britain), but Harrison was not credited or remunerated for this; it had been "for a lump sum, no royalties".

External links edit