The Saint's Second Front
The Saint’s Second Front is the name of a lost, unpublished short story that Leslie Charteris wrote in the summer of 1941. While the title for this story is unconfirmed, a novella called The Saint’s Second Front is referred to in some correspondence between Leslie Charteris and his agents Willis Wing and Virginia Russell around this time. Since The Saint’s Second Front is otherwise unknown, and it makes sense from a plot perspective, this name is probably correct.
This lost story is often referred to as The Saint at Pearl Harbor, but that is not an accurate title. Other suggestions have been The Saint and The Surprise Attack, Surprise The Saint, or even just Surprise Attack!
Many of the Saint stories written by Leslie Charteris have been proven to be quite prophetic of things to come. None as much so as one particular story that was never published at all.
It is fairly certain that it was Cosmopolitan who turned this story down for reasons of, "we do not think this is the time to publish anything which might aggravate the tensions with our Japanese friends.”
In the introduction of the May 1957 issue of The Saint Detective Magazine, Charteris wrote:A while after that I tried to get ahead of the game by writing Prelude For War when Hitler was still only a rather funny little man making raucous noises that scared relatively few people. Being obviously incurable, after that war was solidly started, I wrote a book in which the Saint averted a fair facsimile of Pearl Harbor, except that the attack was to be on California instead of Oahu. That is the only story I have written since becoming a professional which never got published: nobody would touch it, because it was too preposterous, and might even offend our good friends, the Japs. This was in the summer of ‘41. But perhaps I was lucky that time, after all. As a period piece, today, it might have seemed a bit silly.Eight years later in Instead of The Saint—IV, published in the January 1965 issue of The Saint Mystery Magazine, Charteris again mentioned his great unpublished story of 1941:The only story I have failed to sell since I became what is called “established” dealt elaborately and ingeniously with a Japanese plot for a sneak attack on the United States; it was completed in the summer of 1941, and the only error in my crystal ball was that the attack was organized for the coast of Southern California instead of Pearl Harbor, and was planned as part of an immediate invasion, in which I was smarter than the Japanese High Command. It was killed by the national magazine I wrote it for because “we do not think this is the time to publish anything which might aggravate the tensions with our Japanese friends”. And now, of course, unlike other prophetic stories which I first brought out when they were prophetic, there would be no point in publishing it.Unfortunately it looks like the story has been lost forever as Paul M. James writes in a letter to Dan Bodenheimer, December 21, 1990:That “Pearl Harbor” Saint story is a sad one (especially for me). Some years ago, L.C. [Leslie Charteris] told me he did not keep a copy after it was turned down. Then, just recently, Ellen Nehr (who is writing that Crime Club book [History of the Crime Club]) wrote me that all Doubleday records prior to the early 1950s were trashed by some idiots when Doubleday sent its old (before early 1954) records to a warehouse. What a catastrophe! I recently wrote L.C. that I had always hoped to find that Saint “Pearl Harbor” manuscript. But it now looks like it is gone for good.And more than 50 years later, this story is still missing. It is one of the Saint's own enduring mysteries. If anyone knows of a way to track this story down, I'm sure all the Saint fans would be very interested in reading this long-lost and prophetic story about The Saint.
Labels: 2008, Cosmopolitan, Leslie Charteris, Pearl Harbor