OK I admit it I am beaten. In homage to Sue Grafton I attempted to put together a crime fiction alphabet of one word titles (of books I have read) but the dastardly letter X has stumped me. Though I have seen this title written with a hyphen: does that count?
Leslie Charteris published his first book, X Esquire, in 1927. You don’t have to look too hard to see the genesis of the series Charteris’ is most famous for featuring Simon Templar (a.k.a. The Saint) which started two books later. X Esquire starred a chap by the name of Terry Mannering who took it upon himself to knock off some evil doers who were attempting to flood Britain with poisonous cigarettes (more poisonous than usual that is). Signing himself anonymously X, esquire in his communiqué’s Mannering matched wits with an unconventional Scotland Yard detective by the name of Bill Kennedy who also appeared in Charteris’ second novel.
If the world is divided into Bond fans and Saint fans then I am definitely in the second camp. I suspect it’s because my older brother had all the books in a box which he inherited from some distant male relative and never looked at but I slowly worked my way through them when I’d run out of everything else to read and it wasn’t time to go back to the library yet.
One of the useless (unless I’m at the right quiz night) facts swimming around my brain is that Charteris had a Chinese father and was therefore excluded from gaining residency in the US under something called the Chinese Exclusion Act until an act of Congress granted him and his daughter permanent residency. If you want to know more about the man and his works check out Leslie Charteris and the Saint: An Appreciation at the excellent Shots Magazine website.