modesty blaise


A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 22, 23, and 24.

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1971-1972
Titan publication year: 2006

“The Stone Age Caper” is set in Australia. Modesty is vacationing with her new boyfriend David Collins when her old acquaintance Wu Smith comes by to warn Modesty not to buy anything for a while. Smith and his buddy are doing a heist and don’t want her involved. Meanwhile, Willie riding a camel in a desert. He comes across a wounded, pretty girl who says some people are after her. He takes her to an abandoned village to nurse her back to consciousness. He and Modesty communicate through radio and she decides to fly to him on a small plane. Wu Smith’s associates want her dead.

This story shows its age in dialog when Modesty and Willie are talking about the aboriginal Australians. They’re called “Abo” which would be quite offensive these days. On the other hand, one of the aboriginals in this strip was in Modesty’s criminal Network and clearly Modesty and Willie respect him and his skills. And there’s also a mention that the aboriginals don’t want to mess with the white men no matter what the white men do, because aboriginals know they will be blamed, no matter what. The aboriginals are clearly heroic in the story.

“The Puppet Master” is one of the most intense MB comics. The story starts with a chess game that the bad guys are playing. An elderly doctor Baum analyses the others’ moves. Next, Modesty is driving near Naples when she sees that a car has hit a donkey. She comes out of the car and the men attack her. She fights but one of them manages to inject her with a tranquilizer. She tries to fight but the drug overwhelms her.

Meanwhile, Willie is training Tarrant’s agents, especially a pretty new agent Maude. Tarrant comes in and tells Willie that Modesty’s car has been found; she’s been killed in the crash. They travel to Italy. Her body hasn’t been found abd Willie refuses to believe she’s dead. He remains in Italy to look for her. Tarrant thinks that Modesty’s is dead but he orders Maude to remain with Willie, to comfort and help him but also to learn from him.

The bad guys have, indeed, kidnapped Modesty and they’re brainwashing her to kill Willie.

One of my favorite tropes is the amnesia story line and I love this one. The bad guys try to convince Modesty that they’re her friends and she’s part of their criminal gang. Willie has sworn to kill her. Meanwhile, Willie and Maude are going through the Italian underworld. Maude is a smart and capable agent, but just learning the job. She appears in a couple of later strips, too.

“With Love From Rufus” is a more comedic story. Someone breaks into Modesty’s penthouse. He breaks to her safe which has been modified by Willie, so it’s not easy. However, in the morning she notices the break in and realizes that nothing has been taken and a bouquet of roses has been left in the safe with a note that they’re from Rufus.

Modesty is astonished and charmed. She meets with Scotland Yard’s inspector Brooke. He talks about a new genius jewel thief in London and introduces his young nephew Rufus to Modesty. Rufus is a huge fan of both Modesty and Willie. He gushes over her criminal exploits. When they go to Modesty’s car, three men attack them but Modesty fights them off. In her apartment, Willie has come to a surprise visit and is shocked to learn that the youngster has broken into the safe.

Modesty and Willie try to warn Rufus away from a life of crime, but Rufus is proud of his skills as a burglar and wants Modesty to fence the jewels he’s taken. Modesty is in a terrible position as Brooke’s friend. But when Rufus is kidnapped, the game turns deadly.

Rufus is around twenty but Modesty feels that she’s much older than him. His admiration feels uncomfortable to her but Willie (and the readers) think it’s funny.

All three are very good stories and I enjoyed them a lot.

A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 19, 20, and 21.

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1970-1971
Titan publication year: 2005

This collection starts Romero’s long run as MB artist. All three stories are fun and wacky.

“Willie the Djinn” is set in a small country in the Middle East. The story starts in a casino where sheikh Kadhim Al-Mashaf has played a lot of backgammon against Modesty and he’s lost a lot. He wants to continue playing against her and even Willie can’t hide Modesty from him. Meanwhile, Willie has found a group of dancing girls whose manager has ditched them. When the sheikh offers a job to the girls, they only agree if Willie will come with them as a chaperon. Willie’s of course shocked and Modesty comes along, as well, to make sure Willie behaves.

However, when they’re in the sheikh’s plane, one of the girls finds a bomb which takes down the plane. A coup is in progress and Modesty and the girls land right in the middle of it.

This story has even more sexy girls and male gaze than is usual for Romero’s MB. It’s also got a lot of funny moments right from the start when Modesty is trying to hide from the sheikh’s servant and later when Willie convinces a little girl that he’s a djinn… sadly, without magic.

“The Green Eyed Monster” is set in a small country in South America. Modesty has a new boyfriend, zoologist Gil de Serra. Gil’s very jealous ex-girlfriend comes to chew out Modesty but Modesty tosses her to a pool. However, when the jealous ex, who is the daughter of the local British ambassador, is kidnapped Modesty, Willie, and Gil set out to rescue her from the group of revolutionaries.

This story again shows us that Modesty has compassion even for people who insult her. This story has also several humorous scenes, but they’re set after the half-way point.

While “Death of a Jester” is set in a British castle, O’Donnell manages to bring exoticism to that place, too. One of Tarrant’s British Intelligence operatives was assigned to investigate a group of highly skilled and eccentric former army commandos who are now mercenaries. The operative is killed by a knight on a horse, under the eyes of two very shocked teens. The operative was dressed as a jester.

The mercenaries enjoy dressing up as medieval knights and hunting people in the castle’s park. Modesty and Willie infiltrate them, assuming the roles of bored wealthy people.

The medieval shenanigans are just hilarious.

I throughly enjoyed this collection, as well.

A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 16, 17, and 18.

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1969-1970
Titan publication year: 2005

This collection ends Holdaway’s MB comics. He died suddenly in the middle of drawing “the War-Lords of Phoenix” and Romero was selected to take over. Romero has a distinctive style and he makes Modesty even sexier than Holdaway.

“The Hell Makers” starts with Willie kidnapped by a shadowy organization. They want to use him to put leverage on Modesty. This is a wonderful tale which (again) showcases the absolute faith that Modesty and Willie have on each other. It also includes one of the more eccentric, and entertaining, side characters ever on this comic.

In “Take Over” Italian mafia tries to take over the British underworld. The strip starts with mafia’s men training a group of British thugs to rob a bank properly. Then inspector Brooke asks Modesty to look into several robberies which have been done very precisely. Modesty declines, stating that she isn’t Batman, on a crusade against crime. But later, when Modesty is in a bank, that bank is robbed by just such a crew. They kill the security guard who Modesty knows. Now, she and Willie make it their business to find out who is behind it and stop them.

The short discussion between Brooke and Modesty makes it very clear who she is. Every adventure affects Modesty personally somehow. Even though MB strips are often marketed as “spy adventure” Modesty doesn’t work for any country. She gets involved when bad things happen to to people she cares about or some people from her past threaten her or people close to her.

“The War-Lords of Phoenix” begins with Willie and Modesty in Japan, working out with a seventy-year old master of all martial arts, Kazumi. They talk about Kazumi’s granddaughter who is about to get married. On their way to the hotel, Willie, Modesty, and Kazumi see a woman get stabbed. She’s Kazumi’s granddaughter and the man who stabbed her is her fiancee! Of course, Modesty and Willie investigate.

This is another great collection with O’Donnell at the top of his craft.

A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 13, 14B, and 15,

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1968-1969
Titan publication year: 2005

The title story, Bad Suki, unfortunately shows its age: it’s about hippies who use drugs. Modesty, of course, is against all drugs (except tobacco and alcohol which they both use a lot). Willie saves a teenaged girl from diving to her death. She’s dirty and high. He takes her to Modesty’s place. Modesty bathes her and washes her clothing which the girl, Amanda, doesn’t like. However, Modesty knows that she can’t help her or anyone else who doesn’t want help. So, when Amanda briefly lectures to Modesty and Willie about their too safe lives, Modesty doesn’t say anything. Amanda leaves. But Modesty wants to know more about London’s illegal drug trade. So, she and Willie put on hippie clothes and infiltrate the scene.

The Galley Slaves: Modesty and Willie are on a cruise on a ship which is owned by Modesty’s friend. However, the owner’s friends are terrible snobs and they put down Willie at every opportunity. Ten days later, Modesty can’t stand them any longer. She and Willie simply swim away from the ship to a small island near Tahiti. They have minimal supplies but manage just fine. Willie is building a raft when they suddenly see a Roman style trireme sailing to the island.

The Red Gryphon is set in Venice. Modesty has made a new conquest, a young architect Max who is renovating an old estate for a millionaire. Modesty spots a ragged, eleven or twelve year old boy who who is running from the police. She helps him and gives a meal to him and his best friend. Meanwhile, Max starts to behave in a secretive way, saying that he found something he’s sure Modesty will love but he won’t yet talk about. But that morning, he’s found dead. Modesty must get to the bottom of it.

This story is perhaps the most “usual” of Modesty stories. But the inclusion of the two runaways who live on the streets, stealing and scamming, makes this more personal.

All the stories have great character moments. We already know that Modesty hates drugs and in Bad Suki O’Donnell really digs deep to this side of her. Galley Slaves shows the duo’s unique ethics, concerning the people they used to work with. The duo used to be criminals but even then they were only after money and didn’t hurt people unless they had to. They didn’t and still don’t respect violent criminals or people who exploit or abuse others. In the last story, the two street urchins remind Modesty (and us readers) about her childhood. On the other hand, Modesty and Willie are ruthless to their enemies in this collection.

A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 10-12, 14B.

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1966-1968
Titan publication year: 2005

This is another very good collection of Modesty Blaise adventures. One of them, Jericho Caper, is one of my favorites.

“The Black Pearl”: The first story is firmly rooted in 1960s mysticism. It starts in Northern Bengal with an ancient Buddhist holy man Lal. A young novice requires Lal to take up a difficult mission. Lal, is of course too old and frail to do it but someone owes him a great debt, a young woman whose life Lal saved some years ago. And Lal has a mystical means to ask for the repayment.

Modesty is coming home with a new lover, Mark, who trains soldiers for a living. At Modesty’s loft, Willie is engraving a gem. When Mark starts to admire an old amber which should have an insect inside, he notices that it’s gone. Modesty and Willie know that Lal needs them. The travel to him as soon as possible and Mark comes along, too.

Modesty and Willie are faced with a task that seem almost impossible: they must retrieve something called the Black Pearl from a Tibetan monastery in the middle of Chinese occupation. However, they don’t hesitate and Mark comes with them, too.

The task is very dangerous but it has a couple of delightful moments. Modesty must convince a group of misogynistic guerrillas to follow her. Also, they don’t know what the Black Pearl is and it’s a great! Near the beginning of the story, we get another great little snippet of Modesty’s Network days. That’s how Lal saved her life.

“The Magnified Man”: This story starts with a man who commands someone, or something, very strong to just take up a huge boulder and throw it down on a speeding car, killing the man inside.

Modesty, Willie, and sir Gerard Tarrant are on a holiday in Basque Country. Willie recognizes a girl who works for French intelligence and greets her, not realizing that she’s undercover. The moment he does, he tries to leave quickly but he thinks he has messed up her work and put her in danger. To make sure that she’s alright, Modesty and Willie tail her.

Unfortunately, Willie’s hunch is true and the head of the criminal gang orders her killed. Despite Modesty’s and Willie’s best efforts she’s badly wounded. They need to pay back.

This is more straightforward adventure story. The duo goes after a ruthless but very vain villain who is robbing a gold train and uses unusual help.

“The Jericho Caper”: This is one of my favorite stories because Modesty comes up with one of her most ingenious schemes to save the lives of her enemies and, of course, to save herself and her companions, too. Modesty is in a very small town in Middle-America, living very simply. She has also find a new lover, a former soldier who was blinded in war. Now he’s a clay sculptor. One day, three desperadoes walk to town, taking any supplies they want and three girls. Modesty wants to go after them but her new lover, Torres, restrains her. Torres explains that the three men came from a nearby town full of near-lawless men and that if Modesty had killed them, the rest would’ve destroyed the town in revenge. The small town’s priest thinks it’s his duty to go and try to get the girls back. Modesty joins him over the priest’s objections. Torres also joins them.

Like I said, this story shows Modesty’s ingeniousness. Originally, she has just one gun, a priest, and a blind man. However, Willie shows up quickly but that doesn’t even the odds much, considering that the “president” of the desperado town has hundreds of men. The story has some great comedic moments, too.

“The Killing Ground”: This is a lot shorter story. Modesty and Willie wake up, imprisoned in a boat. An old enemy, Bellman, has kidnapped them but not just to kill them. The duo will be put on a small, uninhabited Scottish island and three professional hunters will hunt them down and kill them. The duo must use all their skills to survive.

Great fun with lots of action. However, there’s also some racism which was common during the times the stories were written.

A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 7-9.

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Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1965-1966
Titan publication year: 2004

This is another very good collection of early Modesty adventures. The first one, Top Traitor, is one of my favorites.

In “Top Traitor” Willie is accidentally spending the night in Modesty’s guest room when someone breaks into Modesty’s penthouse. The burglar turns out to be James Fraser, Sir Gerard Tarrant’s right hand man and a former British Intelligence field agent. Tarrant has disappeared and a very sensitive file is missing. Tarrant’s bosses think that he has defected. Fraser doesn’t believe that but he’s watched, so he must secretly contact Modesty and Willie. Only two people, in addition to Fraser and Tarrant, have access to the file. So, one of them must be the traitor. Both are, of course, very high ranked in British intelligence. But that doesn’t stop Modesty and Willie from kidnapping them and interrogating them in their own unique way. Then, Modesty and Willie must get Tarrant back from a very secure place abroad.

This was lots of fun with elements I enjoy a lot: Modesty and Willie undercover, this time in a back country village near Germany (however, I’m sure anyone from around there would cringe to see these stereotypes), and their wit peeking through in the way the two top agents are interrogated. Also, Modesty and Willie’s absolute faith in Tarrant’s loyalty. Lovely!

“The Vikings” is a bit wilder tale. A group of modern pirates are robbing people all around the coasts from Denmark to Spain, dressed as vikings. One of the victims recognizes one of the pirates – as his own son Olaf. The Vikings are a group of young men partying just as hard as they “work”. Their leader is the hardest and wildest of the group, looking for a better challenge in soft, modern times.

Modesty and Willie are on a holiday in Sweden, ice boating. The Vikings’ victim approaches Modesty and accuses that his son, Olaf, has become a criminal because of her. It turns out that Olaf was, indeed, part of Modesty’s criminal organization, the Network, but Olaf came to her and was, in fact, a liability so Modesty isn’t eager to help him. However, Olaf is married, Modesty goes to meet with his wife. She asks Modesty’s help and Modesty agrees. But the Viking boss is delighted to get a better challenge in Modesty.

This story shows Modesty’s (and Willie’s) ethical code. Modesty wants to help Olaf’s wife and they first try to talk the Vikings’ leader to release Olaf. It’s the first real glimpse we have of the Network in action, except for the mention in “Mr. Sun” that Modesty had broken up drug smuggling rings. Later we hear that she also broke up human trafficking rings. When Modesty was doing crime, she wasn’t just robbing things randomly; she researched her targets meticulously and used as little violence as possible. The same thing is true of the next story.

“The Head Girls” starts about a month after the ending of “the Vikings”. Modesty has healed from her wounds and is vacationing in the Hebrides. Willie comes to meet her. When they head back from the beach, two men stop them. The men claim that they’re guards of the nearby government research station but Modesty knows they’re lying. Modesty and Willie knock them out and realize that they’re actually industrial spies, spying on the station. They give the men over to the station’s security. Meanwhile, in the station we find out that the station’s lead researcher’s “perfect” secretary is also a spy. When the two spies are caught, the secretary is ordered to kill them.

Meanwhile, the lead researcher has gone to meet Modesty and Willie. During their Network days, they actually stole the researcher’s previous work but sold it back to him at a reasonable price. He holds no grudge, and Modesty even asks him to spend some time with them when he’s in London. He accepts because his newest invention is ready and he’s selling it to the government. But when he gets back to London, there’s an explosion and he’s killed. Modesty and Willie investigate.

This story also refers to Modesty Network days. By all accounts, she was just the same person then: loyal to her people and with her own code of honor. In this story, too, the stakes turn out to be very personal to our heroes.

The plots in the MB strips are pretty complex. Sometimes they’re far fetched but they’re often well-thought out and enjoyable when reread, too. I very much enjoyed these ones.

A reprint of the Modesty Blaise comic strips 4-6.

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Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1964-1965
Titan publication year: 2004

This is a another very good collection of early Modesty adventures.

“Mister Sun” is set during Vietnam War and introduces one recurring character: Weng. The story starts with Weng whose whole family died when he was quite young. Modesty found him starving on the streets and took him under her wing. She’s currently paying for his university studies. However, Weng notices something in a newspaper and then he needs need money desperately. He’s already so indebted to Modesty that he feels that he can’t ask for more. So, he goes to a local crime lord, Mr. Sun. Sun agrees to help him, but for a price. Sun knows his tie to Modesty and he hates her, so he uses Weng to put a trap for Modesty.

Modesty hears that Weng has gone missing and travels to Hong Kong to investigate. When Mr. Sun contacts her, he has a suggestion: he’ll tell her where Weng is but only if Modesty will smuggle eight kilos of heroin for Sun. If she won’t, he’ll kill Weng.

This story features a ruthless and truly evil villain. Sun is one of the biggest crime lords in Hong Kong: he’s responsible for 70% of the city’s drug trafficking. He hates Modesty, because she’s broken up his ring in the past, and wants to break her mind before killing her. He knows how much Modesty hates drugs so forcing her to smuggle it will be his triumph.

This is also the story where we see for the first time a practice fight between Modesty and Willie. They practice as hard as they can: only softening killing or incapacitating blows. This time, as many other times, they use martial arts without weapons.

Despite his progressive views on feminism, O’Donnell does have his drawbacks as well, namely racism and homophobia. This story was written in 1964 and it shows: the Asian characters are very stereotypical, either evil or submissive to white rule.

“The Mind of Mrs Drake” starts with Mrs. Drake who is a psychic; when she touches an object she gets impressions of future or current events happening to the item’s owner. We know right from the start that she’s up to no good because she’s scheming with sinister looking chap called Korzon. She’s worried because a client has written a full confession which presumably would expose her and Korzon. Korzon reassures her that it will be taken care of. Next, Drake does a reading for her client and a little later Korzon kills the client.

Then Modesty enters the story. She’s playing tennis with a beautiful blonde Jeannie. Jeannie is actually Tarrant’s agent, working for British intelligence. Tarrant has sent her to be bait for Mrs. Drake and Jeannie is a bit scared of the job. However, she continues with it. Then Jeannie is kidnapped from her father’s home, right from the living room. Her father is a retired Navy agent and now blind. When Tarrant tells Modesty and Willie what happened, she sets up an appointment with Drake, determined to get Jeannie back.

This story clearly illustrates Modesty’s and Willie’s loyalty to any person who they consider their friend. If anything happens to any of them, they’ll walk through fire to set things right again. The ending also shows their kindness. Interestingly enough, Jeannie’s father, Mr. Challon, has a major part late in the story. He’s blind but his other senses have grown stronger to compensate for that and he proves to be very useful in a unusual situation. In later stories, O’Donnell has another blind person who can “see” with their ears.

In “Uncle Happy” Modesty is on a holiday in San Diego diving and harpooning fish. When she harpoons one big seabass, a very cranky underwater photographer, Steve Taylor, yells at her for ruining his photo. Of course, he can’t resist her, and they become lovers. After a few days, they go to Las Vegas. But while they’re playing in one of the casinos, Modesty sees a strange looking man glaring at her new lover. Later, two thugs kidnap Steve intending to murder him. Luckily, Modesty is there to stop it. She has questions to him and Steve has questions about her, but instead of resolving things, Steve leaves.

A couple of days later, Willie arrives. Apparently, one of his previous girlfriends has been murdered and the person responsible is the strange looking man in the casino. The man pretends to be a philanthropist and the press even calls him Uncle Happy. He has a island for disenfranchised kids, mostly girls. Modesty and Willie are determined to find out what’s going on. Steve also shows up.

These were good, early adventures with meticulous plotting and lots of action.

A reprint of the first three Modesty Blaise comic strips.

Publisher: Titan
Original publication years: 1963-1964
Titan publication year: 2004

I’ve been reading Modesty Blaise since I was a teenager but I’ve never read the strips in publication order, just in the haphazard way I go them in Finnish editions. Here, most were published in the Agentti X9 comic book which had one MB comic and three others, usually Rip Kirby, Corrigan, and other secret agents. Eventually, Modesty got her own albums but even in them, the stories weren’t in chronological order. I also don’t have all of them, but I have some albums and a stack of Agentti X9 comics. Also, I still have a couple of full adventures which I cut out from Finnish newspapers.

The Titan album has the first three strips: “La Machine,” “The Long Lever”, and “Gabriel Set-Up”. It also seems to have the short “In the Beginning” strip which tells Modesty’s tragic backstory as an orphan refugee struggling to survive to adulthood and then her rise to leading the criminal organization the Network and then retiring.

Even the first comic has all the ingredients that I love: a terrible enemy who seems almost impossible to defeat, clever schemes from Modesty and Willie, and really high stakes. What is missing is the occasional whimsical humor which made some of the later comics really memorable for me. But from the start, Modesty’s moral code is clear: she hates it when people are used, she especially hates drugs and prostitution and even took down those criminal organizations when she was a crime boss. She’s fiercely loyal to her people and defends them with her life, if needs be. Willie’s her right hand man.

MB is a newspaper comic strip, which makes the form very restricted. It’s black and white, in three panels. O’Donnell, who created Modesty and wrote all her stories, was already an experienced strip writer when he came up with Modesty and it shows. The panels are clear (at least when the printing is of good quality) and no panel is wasted.

“La Machine” is an introduction to Modesty and her world. Sir Gerald Tarrant, who is the head of British intelligence, comes to Modesty asking for a favor: to take down a French-based ruthless and efficient murder ring called la Machine. Tarrant has information that he could’ve used to blackmail Modesty but instead he destroyed the evidence. Modesty always pays her debts. So, she and Willie cook up a scheme to put Willie as a target for la Machine. They stage a public fight and Modesty puts a murder contract out on Willie.

This was a very good beginning. It showcases all the things Modesty and Willie are known for: they’re extraordinary loyalty to and faith in each other, their cool heads when in danger, and their fighting skills, especially with martial arts and Willie’s extraordinary skill with knives.

In the “Long Lever” Tarrant has a job for Willie but Willie won’t take it unless Modesty agrees. When she finds out what it’s about, she wants in. Dr. Kossuth is a former Hungarian citizen who was put in a horrible refugee camp. He managed to escape and flee to US. Now, he’s been kidnapped presumably to take him back to Hungary. The CIA has a lead: he might be on a yacht owned by a millionaire who needs money. Modesty and Willie are pretending to be a shipwrecked couple and search the ship. If they find Kossuth, they’ll try to free him.

“The Gabriel Set-up” introduces a bit more eccentric villain although not as over the top as some of the later ones: Gabriel whom even his own men fear. Gabriel has been working of a long time and has a large organization. This time, his minions have set up a health spa. However, Gabriel’s doctors use hypnosis to uncover secrets from their customers which include British government officials and very rich individuals. Even Tarrant is hesitant to engage Gabriel but Modesty goes to the spa to investigate. It’s near US border in Canada. Gabriel’s scheme isn’t easy to find out and he’s a formidable enemy.

Meanwhile, Willie has been working as a lumber jack nearby and is dating the daughter of the timber lord. Marjorie is an explosive blonde who has grown quite of Willie. When Modesty appears, Marjorie is jealous but Modesty quickly explains to her that Modesty isn’t a competitor and that Willie’s not the sort to stay with one girl. This is the first comic where we see that both Modesty and Willie have other partners and aren’t going to stay with just one person. Neither of them makes any secret of it to anyone they’re dating.

Several of the strips use characters who have ESP-type powers. Here the enemy uses hypnosis and only when the victim has been put into a receptive state.

These were all enjoyable reads even if none of them are my very favorites. They’re full of action, very James Bond type adventure except that I like Modesty and Willie (and many of the side characters) far more.

The fourth Modesty Blaise adventure.

Publication year: 1969
Format: print
Page count: 288
Publisher: Souvenir Press

This time we start with Willie Garvin. He’s on a holiday at a remote island on Panama when he accidentally witnesses two men murdering one girl and kidnapping another. He’s too far away to stop the murder but he manages to rescue the other girl. He kills the two men and hides the girl. She turns out to be blind and she doesn’t know why they wanted to kidnap her. She’s Dinah Pilgrim and she’s smart, brave, and resourceful in her own way.

It turns out that the man behind the murder-kidnap is Gabriel who was the main villain in the very first Modesty Blaise book. And Gabriel knows our heroes and really wants them dead. However, Gabriel himself is working for someone even worse.

Meanwhile, Modesty is back in England, entertaining Stephen Collier. Sir Gerard Tarrant asks them to see an old friend of his who is worried that something strange in happening at an archeological dig at Alger. But that old friend turns out to be dead, supposedly broken neck from falling down stairs and when Willie calls for help, Modesty leaves to Panama. Of course, things escalate.

This is one of the best books in the series, full of action, humor, and the best secondary characters. Steve’s wry, self-deprecating humor is used to relieve tension and he’s a good POV character. Modesty and Willie are at the top of their game, having to rescue others and keep them alive.

There’s no character development for Modesty and Willie, but there isn’t any in the whole series.

A Modesty Blaise adventure.

Publication year: 1982
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2012
Translator: Veli-Pekka Ketola
Format: print
Page count: 275
Publisher of the Finnish translation: Jalava

Modesty Blaise was a very successful criminal when she was younger. She rose quickly to lead her own criminal organization, the Network. But there were certain criminal activates she didn’t do, and she even brought down other criminals engaged in them. Her Network dealt mainly with espionage, smuggling, and jewels. The beginning of this story reveals how Modesty told her closest men that she’s going to retire and how they did their last job together. For a while now, Modesty has wanted to bring down Bora who deals with drugs and human trafficking. So, as her last gig she does exactly that, with the help of Willie Garvin and some of her men.

Years later, Modesty, Sir Gerard Tarrant, Professor Steven Collier, and his blind wife Dinah are enjoying a night out when they are shot with a crossbow bolt. Modesty manages to deal with the man responsible but he’s later killed in police custody. The hit could have been against either Modesty herself or Tarrant who is head of Britain’s intelligence. Modesty decides to disappear. Later, there’s another attempt against Tarrant’s life which Willie manages to stop, barely.

When Modesty is vacationing in San Francisco, she runs into an old friend but unwittingly puts him into great danger. Because of that Modesty and Willie become entangled with the dangerous plans of a cruelly efficient organization known only as the Watchmen. They have taken credit for variou terrorist attacks in the names of different causes, so nobody knows what they really want or who they are.

This is another great adventure. This time some of the elements which I don’t like are missing, so I enjoyed it even more than usual. However, I don’t remember Willie having a photographic memory before.

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