Willie Garvin, Modesty's loyal partner, makes the above statement just as he and Modesty are about to set out on what becomes an incredibly harrowing and dangerous caper. Willie makes this statement to Modesty (who he calls "Princess") at a time when he and Modesty have already been dealt a severe blow - they have just discovered that they are not only fighting for themselves and the need to save the world, but must fight for the life of an innocent child who is dear to them. This makes it of utmost importance that they have to defeat the bad guys.
"Sabre-Tooth" is the second book in the Modesty Blaise series of books and was written by Peter O'Donnell in 1966. It is a direct sequel to the first book, with Sir Gerald Tarrant of the British Foreign Service sending Modesty and Willie out on another dangerous mission.
As usual for a Modesty Blaise adventure the bad guys are bigger than life and extremely nasty. Karz, the huge Mongol who has assembled an army of mercenaries in northern Afghanistan, is totally ruthless, but still not the most fascinating of the villains.
That honor must go to "The Twins", a grotesque pair of killers who hate each other's guts but must endure each other's constant proximity to avoid insanity. This is because The Twins were once Siamese twins, and even though they were successfully separated, the separation was not viable due to a mutual psychological dependency. Now The Twins wear a harness that joins them at the shoulders, and they spend every minute of their lives linked together.
The high point of "Sabre-Tooth" is the fight to the death between Modesty and The Twins. How can Modesty, completely unarmed, survive in a fight against a four-legged, four-armed, two-headed killing machine?
The plot of "Sabre-Tooth" is fascinating, especially seen in retrospect after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Peter O'Donnell's premise was that oil-rich Kuwait was a plum for the taking, and that in 1966 Kuwait's military defenses were such that they could not withstand a surprise attack by an army of ruthless mercenaries with the amazing firepower of modern weapons.
The story of how Modesty and Willie infiltrate Karz' army of mercenaries and their attempts to derail the attack on Kuwait is developed with a sure hand. Peter O'Donnell shows himself once again to be a master storyteller.
In this book we are introduced to the American businessman John Dall, a recurring figure in many of the later Modesty books. Willie Garvin's fondness for obscure English words is also presented, another recurring element in the series.
In my opinion "Sabre-Tooth" is one of the best books in the Modesty Blaise series, and well worth five stars. The unique and powerful relationship between Modesty and Willie is presented in a wonderful way, and their forcefulness and drive in the face of huge odds is also great.
If I had to mention a couple of negative factors it would have to be the minor inconsistencies that a good editor should have caught. For example, Mr. Vaubois, head of the French secret service, is referred to as Léon Vaubois in the first half of the book and as René Vaubois in the last half. Similarly, one of the bad guys is referred to as both "Chief Recruiting Officer" and "Chief Security Officer" - on the same page, no less.
A few more negatives: Modesty and Willie spend so much time smoking that they come across as nicotine addicts. And the book, like all of the Modesty books, is too short.
Highly recommended; both this book in particular and the Modesty Blaise series in general, especially the first six or seven books in the series.
Incidentally, you may wish to take a 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 an article entitled "Why I love the Modesty Blaise books".