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Modesty Blaise (Modesty Blaise series) Paperback – October 28, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Although the book is cumbersome at times with technical descriptions involving an elaborate heist, the action and excitement outweigh it. Look for a spectacular hand-to-hand battle between Modesty and Mrs. Fothergill, one of Gabriel's eccentric bodyguards. Mrs. Fothergill is portrayed as chillingly cold-blooded and combat-competent, yet Modesty's fighting expertise is more than a match for Mrs. Fothergill's martial arts and gymnastic acumen.
Modesty Blaise is far from an ordinary 'spy' (hardly a 007 rip-off). In fact, she's an exceptional woman way ahead of her time!
"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.Read more ›
If you want to read them in order:
A Taste For Death
Pieces of Modesty
The Silver Mistress
Last Day In Limbo
The Xanadu Talisman
The Night of Morningstar
Dead Man's Handle
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.
That became the basis for the book Modesty Blaise, the first in what would become a series of eleven novels and two short story collections. O’Donnell’s screenplay, extensively rewritten for the worse, also eventually produced a movie starring Italian actress Monica Vitti as the title character, which came out about a year after the book. That movie is atrocious not only on its own but especially as an adaptation of O’Donnell’s work (how atrocious? imagine the worst of Roger Moore’s 1970s James Bond films that you can think of and start subtracting from there…). Perhaps most offensively, a killing that takes place about halfway through the book and serves as a moral barometer for the characters—Modesty’s reaction is both touching and a validation of her fundamental decency and humanity—is in the movie treated basically as a joke (unsurprisingly, an unfunny one).
Fortunately, the movie bombed while the book sold well. Score one for the public’s good taste.
Maybe someone one day will do justice to Modesty Blaise on the big screen (paging Quentin Tarantino…). If you read the book, you will see what a good movie it could be made into, with plenty of action as well as intriguing inter character relationships and plenty of suspense.
I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books in due course.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I ordered this after reading everything O'Donnell read under the pen name Madeline Brent. I have to say that I absolutely LOVE Modesty Blaise. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Lucky Clucker
Excellent and greatly unsung entry into the entertaining world of Modesty Blaise. Modesty was born in newspapers, the child of writer Peter O'Donnell and artist Jim Holdaway. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Grendel Khan
A fun read. Some of the descriptions were a little awkward and difficult to understand, but the story was pretty good. Read morePublished 13 months ago by andy
Me too! I read this because in an internet post Steve Barnes, the SF writer, recommended it if one wished to see good examples of well written, entertaining fight scenes. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Peter Huston
One can see how this first volume spawned 10 more books in this series. It is a tightly scripted adventure with good characterization and adventure that draws you in and keeps you... Read morePublished 17 months ago by F. Orion Pozo
Ten million dollars in diamonds are being given to an Arab sheik, but Gabriel, a master criminal plans on taking the diamonds somewhere in shipment. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Virginia E. Johnson
Modesty Blaise (Joseph Losey, 1966, 119‘)
Modesty Blaise was a comedic spy-fi motion picture produced in the United Kingdom and released worldwide. Read more
The first Blaise is where it all starts, so you have to begin here. It's a fine Modesty, perhaps not the best, but unmissable. Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by Jack Rawlins