The Saint’s in New York. He bumps into an old friend, Lester Boyd (Gary Cockrell), who later launches a blistering television attack against Nat Grendell (Peter Dyneley). Lester accuses union big-wig Grendell of numerous counts of corruption and promises to lay all the facts before the audience during his next broadcast. But before he can do this, Lester is killed in a bomb attack. Simon, convinced that Grendell was responsible, vows to pick up where Lester left off.
It’s a shame that Lester didn’t pre-record his programme, that would have saved everybody a great deal of trouble ….
The Saint seems to be resident in New York (or at the least, has his own apartment). He’s not alone though, as he has the assistance of Hoppy (Percy Herbert). Hoppy Uniatiz popped up a fair few times during Charteris’ original stories, but like most of the book regulars (apart from Inspector Teal) he didn’t become a fixture throughout the series. A slight pity, but it’s possible that Hoppy’s dumbness might have become grating over time. Having said that, I do like Hoppy’s delight that Simon, following in the footsteps of Lester, might become a television star. “Another Jack Benny. Another Bob Hope. Another Mr Jelly Wobbly. Hey, he’s a big old fat guy who does a kid’s show”!
Although Simon begins by declaring that Lester is wrong to believe that the pen is always mightier than the sword, since the police are convinced that he’s going to extract violent revenge against Grendell, the Saint is forced to try and defeat his nemesis without any overt display of force. Grendell is under no such restrictions though and elects to use a loose cannon called Herman Uberlasch (David Kossoff) to finish off Simon.
Grendell may be depicted as a union boss, but this is never a factor in the story (he could just as easily be a politician or a businessman). Peter Dyneley’s pretty solid, although his entourage offers slightly more vivid character pickings. Dorinda Stevens is good value as the brassy Verna, his sharp-tonged moll, whilst David Kossoff is ever so slightly deranged as the bomber. Grendell and Uberlasch are clearly men of limited imaginations since they decide to blow up Lester with a bomb and later elect to dispose of Simon with …. wait for it, two bombs!
If the story is rather slight, then Roger Moore is once again working overtime to make bricks out of straw. Simon’s confrontation with Grendell sparkles, thanks to the Saint’s passionate oratory. “You are a parasite and an extortionist. You’ve had dozens of men beaten up by your hired thugs, just because they attempted to vote you out and get a decent, honest union boss in your place”. I also love the way he insouciantly blows smoke into Grendell’s face!
Sally Bazely has a small, but key, role as Lester’s girlfriend, Jenny Hallam. She elects to deal with Grendell in her own way – taking a potshot at him – but of course she’s unsuccessful (had her aim been better then the story would have ended somewhat prematurely). As it is, Simon’s able to deal with Grendell quite neatly – as he later tells Sally, the man was hoist with his own petard.
Maybe the most memorable part of The Careful Terrorist is Simon’s closing television announcement. He uses it to reassure the public that Grendell was an isolated rotten apple, stating that all the other union bosses up and down the country are fine upstanding men who are only interested in furthering the interests of their members. This was obviously slotted in by an anxious production team, worried that the American viewing public might be upset by the episode-long attack on the probity of their public servants (today, people wouldn’t probably bat an eyelid at revelations of corruption).
This clumsy ending is a slight problem (and the rest of the story isn’t terribly compelling either) but with Roger Moore pulling out all the stops, I’m happy to add an extra half point to this one – leaving The Careful Terrorist with a respectable three and a half halos out of five.