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The Ace of Knaves

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Title: The Ace of Knaves  
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Subject: Thieves' Picnic, Saint Overboard, The Saint Goes On, Patricia Holm, Simon Templar
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The Ace of Knaves

The Ace of Knaves
First edition (UK)
Author Leslie Charteris
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series The Saint
Genre Mystery fiction
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
The Crime Club (US)
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded by Saint Overboard
Followed by Thieves' Picnic

The Ace of Knaves is a collection of three mystery novellas by Leslie Charteris, first published in the United Kingdom in 1937 by Hodder and Stoughton, and in the United States by The Crime Club. This book continues the adventures of Charteris' creation, Simon Templar, alias The Saint. Later editions of the book were retitled The Saint in Action. The adventures in this book mark the return of Templar's longtime girlfriend and partner Patricia Holm and his nemesis, Chief Inspector Claud Eustace Teal since The Saint Goes On.


The book consists of the following stories:

  1. The Spanish War - A 10 pound debt turns into a mystery involving $30,000 in bearer bonds, a dead body, and a connection to the (then-current) Spanish Civil War.
  2. The Unlicensed Victuallers - When Templar and his crew pursue a liquor-smuggling racket, their mission becomes complicated when they discover a beautiful blonde is somehow caught up in it and Templar becomes concerned that she is somehow connected to a murder.
  3. The Beauty Specialist - The Saint is suspected of being "The Z-Man", a mysterious figure who is blackmailing a trio of movie starlets. It's up to Simon and Patricia Holm to protect the women until the blackmailer's real identity is revealed.

Television adaptations

All three stories were adapted as episodes of The Saint TV series.

"The Beauty Specialist" was retitled "Marcia" and aired on October 24, 1963 as part of the second season. "The Spanish War" was retitled "The Work of Art" and aired on October 31, 1963, as part of the second season. "The Unlicensed Victuallers" was retitled "The Hi-Jackers" and aired on December 17, 1964 as part of the third season.

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