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4.4 out of 5 stars71
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2001
Peter O'Donnell is one of the most underrated writers the english language has probably ever known. There isn't a single writer alive today who couldn't learn a great deal from his characterisations, plotting and sheer story telling brilliance. This book is to my mind the best of the Modesty Blaise novels and the novels themselves are among the best adventure stories you could ever read. Unfortunately the original comic strips and an appalling film adaptation (and I mean really dire) probably put most people off trying the novels. A taste for death is probably not a good place to start with Modesty Blaise. You should at least read the first novel (just called: modesty blaise) as that sets the background this novel returns to in part.
But whatever you do: read peter o'donnell, his books never date, his writing never grows stale and Modesty Blaise (Lara Croft eat your heart out) and Willie Garvin (and he could take Jack Reacher) manage to pull off almost superhuman feats with a casual nonchalance that is utterly convincing.
A taste for Death has my all time favourite fictional villain in Simon Delicata.
Read this book and discover for yourselves just how short changed you've been by the major publishing houses.
Peter O'Donnell was there first and does it so much better it's truly criminal there are no paperback re-prints.
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on 3 April 2002
this is undoubtedly the best modesty blaise novel
although i would run I LUCIFER a close second.
If the powers that be ever get round to making
a decent modesty movie, rather than the travesty
starring monica vitti (who)! this is the novel
they should film.
the novel starts with willie garvin having his own little adventure which demonstrates he is no
mere cipher to modesty blaise.
an old foe Gabriel shows up, and a new terrifying
seemingly superstrong and invulnerable villain
Simon Delicata is introduced.
The story concerns a group of archelogists who are
being held by delicata and gabriel they believe
the site they are digging on contains an ancient
treasure.
modesty and willie get involved without really
knowing what they are up against.
there then follows some of the most exciting
action scenes you will read(worthy of Ian Fleming)
suberb combat descriptions and a real nailbiter
of an ending.
This is one of the few Modesty books that is relatively easy to get hold of, but i warn you
that if you do get it, you wont be able to put
it down enjoy!!1
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 10 November 2012
I have read a few of P D James' books, but not many, so was happy to dive into this tale of murder and mystery. The death of a tramp and a recently resigned Minister of the Crown in a London church draw Dalgliesh and his team to uncover a tangled web of lies, deceit, ambition and long-held passions. What they find is surprising. This book is good, but it did go into an awful lot of detailed explanations of every little thing which in the scheme of things were not really particularly relevant to the story - at over 500 pages, I did feel that the book could have benefited from some judicious editing.

A good murder mystery, but not great. Recommended for a restful read when you have plenty of time to devote to it.
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on 8 November 2005
"A Taste for Death" was written by Peter O'Donnell in 1969 and is the fourth book in the Modesty Blaise series of books. In my opinion it is the best book in the series, and perhaps the best book I've ever read. (And re-read and re-read. I think I've probably read this book at least 10 times in the last 35 years.)
The book starts with two parallel stories, one in Panama and one in England.
In Panama, Willie Garvin (Modesty's loyal side-kick) runs into Gabriel and McWhirter, the two memorable bad guys from the first Modesty Blaise book. They are trying to kidnap Dinah Pilgrim, a blind girl they need because of her having a special talent. Willie saves Dinah and then a major confrontation ensues, with Modesty coming to Willie's aid and both Modesty and Willie surviving traps that should not possibly be survivable.
Meanwhile, in England Modesty Blaise has encountered Simon Delicata, an incredibly nasty villain and perhaps the scariest fictional bad guy I've ever read about. Delicata first kills an archeologist with ties to a research expedition in the Sahara Desert, and later strikes directly at Modesty's cottage in the English countryside.
In a very satisfying plot maneuver the two supposedly separate story lines merge. It turns out that Gabriel and McWhirter are in league with Delicata, and Modesty and Willie must travel to Algeria to face this trio of villains in a fight to the death. A fight that they have almost no chances of surviving against the combined force of Gabriel and Delicata.
The most fascinating thing about the Modesty Blaise books is the personality of the two main characters, Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. They both have an amazing will to survive and to overcome the incredible dangers they are faced with. They have fantastic fighting abilities and can be cold and deadly when necessary. But they are also warm and loving, and intensely loyal to each other and to their friends.
The quotation at the start of this review is what Modesty says to Willie near the end of the book, when they suddenly and unexpectedly find themselves once again face to face with Simon Delicata, the main villain of the story. Modesty is already seriously injured from a previous fight and unable to move, and Delicata, a cold-blooded killer, has previously demonstrated that he can easily beat Willie in an unarmed fight.
This situation, and the ensuing fight between Willie and Simon Delicata, is one of several high points in the book, and one I'll remember for the rest of my days.
Incidentally, Stephen Collier, introduced in "I, Lucifer", is back, and he and Dinah Pilgrim remain recurring figures in the remaining books in the series.
This book is a bit special in the Modesty Blaise series due to there being an interesting love story with an unexpected twist.
I'm rather hard pressed to say anything negative about this book. It's too short, like all of the Modesty books, and there's too much smoking. And, unfortunately, being the best book in the series it marks the start of the slow decline in the rest of the series.
Very, very highly recommended.
Rennie Petersen
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on 10 August 2000
As with all the Modesty Blaise stories written by Peter O'Donnell I found A Taste for Death excellent and thoroughly enjoyed every page. In this story we are introduced to Dinah Pilgrim and Steve Collier who feature in other Modesty Blaise books...
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on 2 April 2000
From start to finish, this book really delivers a great read. A superb villain, Willie's dark past, ancient mystery, knuckle-biting single combat and, most of all, the "Princess"! This is my favorite Modesty Blaise story... and I've read ALL of them!
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on 30 October 2015
Two men found dead in a church: murder and suicide, or double murder? One a politician, the other a tramp. Because this is a PD James novel we know it is murder, but we don’t know why or who by. This novel differs from the preceding six in this series because of its length [656 pages], compared with its predecessor ‘Death of an Expert Witness’ [400 pages]. For this we get extra plot twist and turns, more detail about the potential suspects, more internal monologues, and more of the literary depth which characterizes the later Dalgliesh novels. Some readers will appreciate the extra detail, others may prefer a quicker moving, shorter, crime novel.
The story is book-ended by the meeting and subsequent relationship between Miss Emily Wharton and 10-year old Darren Wilkes. They find the bodies and after that their very human story is lost in the swirl of police procedure and suspicion, accusations and alibis.
Commander Adam Dalgliesh heads up a new squad to solve serious crimes which need sensitive handling. This murder of Sir Paul Berowne, a government minister, is the squad’s first case. On Dalgliesh’s team is John Massingham, familiar from earlier novels, and newcomer Kate Miskin. Miskin’s storyline is a welcome female perspective in a male-dominated job [this book was first published in 1986].
This was the first PD James novel I read, I still have the original paperback. Certainly I have a clear memory of a man called Berowne murdered in a church. It was the beginning of a fondness for Adam Dalgliesh and I have read every one of his series since.
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on 23 November 2004
P.D.James shines here with this novel which contains everything needed in a murder mystery.
Gripping from start to finish, this novel sees Dalgliesh caught up in an investigation which has turned personal - he knew the victim. There are many twists and turns here as they try to unravel the clues and evidence to point them to a ruthless and sadistic killer. There are many sub-plots in the novel which try to lead you astray, but ultimately it comes down to one ruthless murderer. Kate Miskin features heavily in this story and a great part of the novel involves her personal life which we have not seen until now.
A truly thrilling cerebral mystery, which delivers the goods intelligently and VERY Englishly! One of my personal favourites which I read again and again.
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on 17 December 2006
I have always loved p d James books and would rate them very highly. This book has taken her to a new stratoshere in the genre of crime writing. It has a beautiful prosse, well rounded characters and a top class whodunnit. I loved the plotline. How could a top MP and a tramp both end up with their throats cut in a london church? we are drawn into the whys and wherefores from page one and there are fabulous sub plots which touch at the heartstrings, Detective Kate Miskin and her humble upbringing is an example. She has risen from a council high rise flat to become a top detective and still she has her doubts as to where she really fits in to the team inveatigating the double murder. the ending is both poignant and surprising. What more can you ask from a high class whodunnit?
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on 13 February 2013
I love the way PD James expresses herself. I always feel as though I'm reading something of quality with her books. However, this was not one of my favourites. I didn't really care about any of the characters in this story so it was the intrigues of the plot which kept me reading. Abbeys and boarding schools don't do it for me either.
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