My hardback listing on Amazon (their scan).
See if it's still available - listed under Moulton Books.
My listing on Amazon (new copy).
In 1929 Leslie Charteris began
writing stories for a new magazine called The Thriller.
Two of these serialised stories (The Creeping Death and
Sudden Death) were later combined to form The Last Hero.
Although his first books had been published by Ward, Lock
& Co he abandoned them for Hodder & Stoughton (hereafter
referred to as H&S) in the UK with the first
publication of this story in May 1930. It was undated and
issued in blue cloth. The Crime Club (US) published it in
1931. The 1941 Sun Dial Press issue subtitled it The
Saint Closes the Case, and this title was adopted by H&S
in 1950, although Ace/Charter called it The Saint The
Last Hero in 1952, while Avon Books called it The Saint
and the Last Hero in 1953.
Simon Templar is working with a gang, who were based on the Five Kings Leslie Charteris had created for The Thriller. In The Thriller, the gang left four playing card kings and a joker (Simon Templar, aka the Saint, was the joker) as a calling card, but in the book it was a drawing of a stickman.
A scientist has invented a weapon called an electron cloud which can be remote-controlled and fries everything in its path. An international arms dealer named Rayt Marius (who was to become the Saint's arch enemy) wants it for World domination, but Simon has decided it is too terrible ever to be allowed to be developed. He decides to kidnap the inventor and kill him if he refuses to drop it. Another interested party is Crown Prince Rudolph, of one of those little monarchies that existed before WWII.
This is a very exciting and enjoyable thriller with clever plot twists, lots of action, and great use of the English language. Simon Templar and his gang are at their best ably aided by Patricia Holm and Chief Inspector Claude Eustace Teal, a character developed in The Thriller. The Secret Service also join in the fun, and in the end the scientist dies along with his invention, but so does Norman Kent, one of the Saint's gang who sacrifices himself for the others.