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Book Overview

In her first adventure for British Intelligence Modesty Blaise with her loyal lieutenant, Willie Garvin, must foil a multi-million pound diamond heist. Bored and restive, Modesty is looking for a... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Outstanding caper novel

Modesty Blaise started life as a cartoon strip, but O'Donnell then put his creation into novel form, and did a superb job in both formats. This is the first novel in the series, and introduces the setting and most of the main characters. Modesty Blaise is a former refugee and survivor of the terrible disruptions caused by the war, and as a child drifted across Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the company of an old professor. She had to be tough to survive; but her companion instilled in her a strong moral code. She took over a small criminal gang and built it up into a powerful criminal organisation infused with that moral code--they never touched drugs or vice, and occasionally co-operated with the police and intelligence services to help clean up such crimes. She retired a wealthy woman at the age of 24. As the novel opens, Modesty and her friend and former second-in-command Willie Garvin are finding that retirement is boring and adrenaline an addiction they cannot shake. Sir Gerald Tarrant, the head of British Intelligence, exploits that addiction to recruit them for an intelligence operation for which they are peculiarly suited. What follows is a thrilling caper novel pitting Modesty and Willie against a bizarre criminal mastermind. Tight plotting and wonderful prose make this a very entertaining read, with a unique pair of heroes. It's wonderful to see Souvenir Press reissuing the novels, making them available again to both a new generation of fans and those with fond memories.

Modesty Blaise is one of the most delightful characters in adventure fiction.

It is hard to say whether the Modesty Blaise novels or the Modesty Blaise comic strips are better, but the lucky reader doesn't have to choose. Read both. The comic strips have been reprinted by Titan Books, Ken Pierce Books, Manuscript Press, and in Comics Revue magazine, and now the novels are being reissued. Also highly recommended are the books Peter O'Donnell wrote under the pseudonym Madeleine Brent.

Seen "Pulp Fiction"? Here's One of the Stars of the Movie

Okay, so you've seen Quentin Tarantino's movie "Pulp Fiction." And you've noticed that every time Vincent Vega (John Travolta) goes to the bathroom, he takes a book along to read. What's he reading? "Modesty Blaise." Why would Vincent want to read Modesty Blaise? Because he's cool and Modesty's cool-- she's a product of British "cool," circa 1965-- and it doesn't get any cooler than that. Meet Modesty and her pal Willie and join them on their action-packed adventures, and you'll see why Tarantino worships Modesty, and why he (pretty obviously) patterned much of Uma Thurman's character "The Bride" after Modesty in the movie "Kill Bill." Modesty Blaise is the ultimate action heroine-- try this, her first adventure (in book form, anyway-- she'd been a comic book figure for awhile by the time this came out), and enjoy.

"Well ... it's different, innit?"

The above quotation is uttered by Willie Garvin at the end of chapter 18 of "Modesty Blaise". Two chapters later the book is over, and readers can agree with Willie and conclude that this book is different. Enjoyably and intriguingly different. "Modesty Blaise" was Peter O'Donnell's first book, published in 1965 when he was 45 years old. Prior to that he had had a long career as the author of scripts for comic strips and writing short stories. In fact, the Modesty Blaise character was first launched as a comic strip in a London newspaper in 1963, so Peter O'Donnell had the background and major story elements well worked out when he wrote this book. This book became the first book in a series of 11 novels and two collections of short stories about Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin, Modesty's loyal and trusted companion. In this review I'll concentrate on certain aspects of the book "Modesty Blaise" itself, in the hopes that the reader already has a general knowledge of the whole Modesty Blaise series of books. If this is not the case then you may want to look at my "So You'd Like To" guide about books by Peter O'Donnell. It includes a link to my MSN group about Modesty Blaise where you can find more information about this whole series of books and why I love them. In "Modesty Blaise" the basic story is that Modesty, a former criminal, is recruited to the side of the good guys. She and Willie then go up against a ruthless team of bad guys and find themselves captured and scheduled to be killed. In order to survive despite the incredible odds against them they have to fight for their lives, using their fighting skills and their ingenuity. In this book Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin are introduced to us in a very effective way. In chapters one and two Willie is in serious trouble and Modesty rescues him, the relationship between the two of them made very clear by the way they interact. Also introduced in this book are Sir Gerald Tarrant, John (Jack) Fraser and Weng, three secondary characters who appear in many of the other books in the series. And we are introduced to Modesty's penthouse apartment overlooking Hyde Park in London and Willie's pub The Treadmill on the bank of the Thames near Maidenhead. The bad guys in the Modesty books are always very special. In this book the memorable villains are Gabriel (who has a penchant for watching cartoons when he's not sentencing people to death), McWhirter (Scottish henchman who jokes about torture) and Mrs. Fothergill (not too bright or attractive but very good with the unarmed combat). Mrs. Fothergill plays a very special role towards the end of the book - but I can't say how without giving too much away. This book introduces the special fighting techniques and weapons that are typical for the Modesty books. In particular, we're presented with Modesty's favorite weapon, the kongo, and Willie's throwing knives, plus a couple of unusual weapons invented by Willie. "Modesty Blaise" is a wonderful
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