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More than meets the eye,
This review is from: A Taste for Death (Modesty Blaise) (Modesty Blaise) (Paperback)
These 1960s action romps suffered badly at the hands of Austin Powers and might be doomed to be read forever through a pair of ironically `swinging' glasses. And in fact most of the elements of the genre are present and correct:
1. Delightfully retro high technology.
2. Stylised action:
3. Comic opera bad guys (led by the gorilla-like Delicata - the man with a taste for death, no sense of pain, and superhuman strength)
4. Globe-trotting plot
Modesty Blaise's partner-in-crime Willie Garvin is pearl-diving off a remote island in Panama when he witnesses the murder of one young woman and the kidnap of another. He is too late to prevent the murder, but foils the kidnap with brutal finality before escaping with the girl. Garvin also sees the man in charge of the operation, an old enemy named Gabriel.The girl, Dinah Pilgrim, is brave, beautiful - and blind. Gabriel wants her alive, but she has no idea why. Trapped in Panama, Garvin calls in Blaise to get him and the girl out in one piece, which she does in fine style. Improbably, the action then moves to the Sahara Desert... sword-fights ensue.
So, it's all good fun. But there's more here.A surprising, but very winning feature of the book (and presumably the series) is the strong sense of family. Cockney action-man Willie Garvin is basically Blaise's soul-mate, despite the fact that he hooks up with Dinah Pilgrim and she is with the elegant mathematician Collier. Blaise's boss Sir Gerald Tarrant, who seems to work in British Intelligence, is the father-figure. Genuine bonds of affection, loyalty and occasionally poignant humour exist between them all. O'Donnell clearly loved his characters and that really comes across.
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Initial post: 7 Apr 2014 18:24:04 BDT
Agreed with most of your review. But I thought the 'Austin Powers' movies a load of twaddle, not in the least bit funny. 'Carry On Spying' in 1964 sent up the genre far more effectively. Come to that, so did 1967's 'Casino Royale'.
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