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on 24 September 2007
Once again a great Modesty Blaise book marred by a major flaw.

"The Xanadu Talisman" is the tenth book in the Modesty Blaise series of books, and was written by Peter O'Donnell in 1981, i.e., 16 years after he had started the series with "Modesty Blaise" in 1965. By now the series was well established and very popular, with a large number of fans (including myself) waiting impatiently for each new book.

Unfortunately, by this time the series was on a slow downwards trend - my rating for each of the first seven books is four or five stars, while books eight, nine and ten only get three stars each. This is because there were two problems that were becoming more and more pronounced with the later books in the series: a repetitiveness in the basic plots and the way in which the bad guys were becoming less scary and invincible, and more weird and silly.

In this book, like most of the books in the series, Modesty and her loyal sidekick Willie Garvin encounter some nasty bad guys. Modesty and Willie get captured, and then, through their ingenuity and incredible fighting skills, they break out of imprisonment and win several battles against the bad guys.

The story in "The Xanadu Talisman" is quite good, sufficiently complicated to keep you guessing for a while. There are also several sub-plots that come together in a satisfying way, and a couple of interesting twists in the last three chapters. To avoid revealing too much I'll just say that a stolen (and re-stolen) treasure of immense value is involved as well as the kidnapping of a young English woman.

Much of the action occurs in and around Morocco. A wealthy Arab sheikh, Prince Rahim Mohajeri Azhari of Saudi Arabia, has built an isolated palace high in the Atlas Mountains. This is Xanadu, and it is here that the climax of the story occurs.

Unfortunately, Prince Rahim is not the top bad guy. (The book would have been better if he was.) Instead, the top bad guys are Nanny Pendergast and two young brothers, Jeremy and Dominic Silk. It turns out that Jeremy and Dominic were left in the care of Nanny Pendergast at a young age, and grew up being trained by their nanny to become top criminals and martial artists. Sounds crazy? I agree. No matter how deadly Peter O'Donnell portrays this trio they still come across as totally ridiculous, and this is an irreparable weakness in the book. A good thriller needs some really formidable bad guys, like the ones who populated the first five Modesty books, not wimps like the Silk brothers and their nanny.

On the plus side I can mention that Modesty and Willie have finally given up smoking, and that this book has a clever humorous ending, instead of the sugar-sweet endings of some of the previous books in the series.

I'll complete this review by explaining the quote that I used on the subject line, "Was bad combat move. Better I take Arab first ... he have submachine gun." (page 276) This can go down as "famous last words", having been uttered by one of the protagonists just before dying. In the heat of the final battle he found himself confronted by two enemies and chose to shoot the one he personally hated instead of the one who was more heavily armed. Bad combat move.

Recommended, but do yourself a favor and start reading the series from the start. The first six-seven books are the best.

Rennie Petersen
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on 16 September 2002
I want to start every Modesty review with "this was my favourite Modesty adventure" In the Xanadu Talisman we get to see Modesty survive a natural disaster by luck and skill, fight for her life again and again, play Jack Fraser for a sucker, and put on a unforgettable combat show in a gladiatorial arena in a Prince's personal death match...against two English public schoolboys. There's also Willie Garvin barehanded against a panther, but we all know the Garvin boy is only backup for the mighty Modesty.
If none of this makes any sense, buy the book, you'll love it. If you know who I'm talking about, then why don't you already have this one? Stop reading this, start reading that!
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on 16 December 2011
Peter O`Donnell`s Modesty Blaise boks never fail to deliver, this one has as many twists and turns as an Alpine road and a smany worrying moments when you realy wonder if our heroine and partner
are not going to make it to another book.BUT they finally do.
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on 15 August 2013
purchased to re-read the series of Modesty.. enjoyed as much as I did the first time I read it . good old fashioned excitement, in the days of politeness and good manners! the humour is just right too... EXCELLENT read
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on 12 October 2011
I enjoyed this book, but felt some of the scene setting dialogue a little clumsy. Still a good read though. I'm a big fan of Modesty Blaise novels: I think they stand up well to the James Bond novels. More humour...
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on 24 December 2012
If you like Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise stories, this is another along the same lines, Modesty and her side-kick Willie Garvin defeat the baddies against unbelievable odds, as usual.
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on 5 February 2017
Great book. Exceeds expectations.
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on 11 April 2015
Spot on
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on 10 August 2016
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on 28 September 2014
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