Rather... criminal :) .
One of the few "aspects" of my life that don't have to do with my childhood, but raher with my teenagehood. I first met the one named the saint, aka Simon Templar, at the already-not-so-tender age of about 15. Being a devoted bookworm, and having devoured most of what the municipal library had to offer, I had to expand my horizons into the expensive territory of purchasing, and being of a modest family I could allow myself only second hand books. I started visiting these, slowly developing a taste for thrillers, and just by chance bought my first Saint. In Hebrew version, mind you (my English at the time was practically inexistent). It must have been a great translation because I fell in love with the character immediately. (I learned later on that the relevant publisher, a house long defunct called Matzpen, was known for their quality prints; most of the other were garbage translations at the time).
I started chasing the Leslie Charteris books thirstily. But, as you can imagine, not many translations were available. It almost single handedly forced me (this and a certain Isaac Asimov, lol) to develop my English proficiency literarily over night. I learned on the fly, reading and reading and reading... Yet, again, the local market was poor in offers, thus when I moved over to Europe I visited every single second-hand book shop in the many towns I visited, chasing Saint's I still did not own. Every one I found was a small victory, it became an obsession. It took me many years to build a complete collection of all the stories (not the magazines, these are a much sought-after rarity). I got in touch with other collectors and some of the books originate from their collections wherever they had doubles. I found I was not the only one in the world with a Saint mania - it was a society phenomenon.
Not surprising. The author was bright, the character was charmingly brilliant, the language used was light yet with a rare richness, subtlety and intelligence. Leslie Charteris was one of the first members of Mensa.
Not much of the spirit of the books was captured in the TV series or movies, however the charming nonchalance of Roger Moore compensated for this lack, so I became an addict of the TV series as well. A nice case for a psychologist. Or for a nutcaseologist. Who cares. I still enjoy reading them today. Old fashioned in their theme and technology (the action is somewhere in the thirties, with the inevitable crawl towards the... seventies) - I am still fascinated and charmed by them. Well done Leslie Charteris.