RARA-AVIS: RE: Rex & The Saint

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 21 Mar 2001

From: Chris Bahn < Chris_Bahn@citysearch.com>
> Curious if any of you have read Eric Garcia's "Anonymous Rex" and what you
> thought of it. It's one of those Philip-Dick-meets-Chandler
> novels that's as much sci-fi as it is hardboiled -- the subgenre including
> Killed Roger Rabbit," "Gun, With Occasional Music" and maybe "Anonymous
> depending on how you look at it ..."

The first "Rex" was a gimmick book much closer to "Roger Rabbit" than to Raymond Chandler. I guess a lot of people found it amusing, since it sold well. I like parody in shorter (and funnier) doses. The turning of this one-note idea into a series suggests that we've reached an era of publishing where gimmick is more important than quality, which may be why my sense of humor failed to kick in when I tried to read book two. And, speaking of quality, I can't see a reason in the world for "Anonymous Brooklyn" to be put in a sci-fi/hardboiled category. It has its surreal moments, but, as far as I can recall, it is a smart, contemporary updating of the Hammett-Chandler detective novel (with maybe a touch of Willeford-like humor thrown in).

> From: Todd Mason < Todd.Mason@tvguide.com>
> And THE SAINT MYSTERY MAGAZINE for February 1960 leads off with "The Saint
and the Mug's
> Game," ...a clever-enough and slightly surprising middling-good
caper-story, one marred, in
> part, by an odd bit of business about Templar's reputation preceding him
to what seemed to me
> an unlikely extent...as if the author had long since begun taking his
series-stories for
> granted.

According to folks who have researched such stuff, "The Mug's Game" was written expressly for a collection of short stories about The Saint. Which may be why Leslie Charteris didn't feel it necessary to point out that Templar was an easily recognized celebrity in his world. The other reason, of course, is that he didn't want to draw attention to this celebrity because it had a payoff in the story. The fact is that by 1939, when "Mug's" appeared, the character was very well known, both in the real world and in his fictional world. A swashbuckling globe-hopping modern Robin Hood who settled revolutions, solved murders and committed them in the name of justice would not have gone unnoticed by the press. Nothing anonymous about The Saint.

Dick Lochte

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