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Romance novels, as Madeleine Brent

Books : reviews

Peter O'Donnell.
Cobra Trap.
Souvenir Press. 1996

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 20 August 2000

It's been a long wait for a new Modesty Blaise book, alleviated by only trickle-feed publication of some of the newspaper strips. Now we have five new short stories. (Although, having read those published strips, there is the occasional feeling of deja vu, as some of their scenes are recycled, usually in different plots.)

Although necessarily without the depth of the novels, these short stories range over the whole of Modesty Blaise's career, and we meet some old friends again. And the last story in particular is very well done.

Contents: (minor spoilers)

Bellman
After a bit of Network-days background, this is a straight write-up of The Killing Ground strip
The Dark Angels
A group of highly skilled psychopathic killers -- the self-styled Dark Angels -- are being used to kill foreign industrialists before they can take over British industries. Modesty and Willie's new friend Gus appears to be the next on their list.
Old Alex
After the events of Dead Man's Handle, Salamander Four have set Modesty up for a slow death -- by starvation while trapped in a remote cave in the Pyrenees. But she is rescued by a local farmer, Old Alex, which sets in motion a whole train of linked events.
The Girl With the Black Balloon
Modesty and Willie have just two days to rescue a kidnapped Nobel Peace Prize winner before he is killed. And they need some special help to break into his heavily fortified prison.
Cobra Trap
Modesty and Willie's final caper, as they rescue Steve and Dinah Collier from a South American coup. [I was reluctant to read this, given I had seen a spoiler that revealed the ending, but it is very well done.]

Peter O'Donnell, Dick Giordano.
Modesty Blaise.
DC Comics. 1994

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 31 October 1997

This is a graphic novel version of the novel Modesty Blaise, although with the story necessarily condensed. The artwork keeps very much in the style of the newspaper strips -- for example Gabriel here does look like the newspaper Gabriel -- but now in colour!

I'm used to having to keep the two 'parallel worlds' of the novels and the comic strips separate in my mind. Having one of the novels in comic-strip form can only make that more difficult. Strictly mind candy, it's still a fun way to fill an hour, if you are a fan.

strips (series)

[Willie and Modesty]1. La Machine, artist Jim Holdaway (13 May – 21 Sep 1963)
Sir Gerald Tarrant destroys a document that puts Modesty Blaise under an obligation to him. He calls it in, getting her to break up an assassination ring.
2. The Long Lever, artist Jim Holdaway (23 Sep 1963 – 15 Jan 1964)
Modesty sets out to recover a defecting scientist, but then she discovers just why he is defecting.
3. The Gabriel Set-Up, artist Jim Holdaway (16 Jan – 18 June 1964)
Modesty investigates an exclusive clinic that may be linked with blackmail, and discovers it is a Gabriel operation. Then Gabriel convinces Willie he has killed Modesty...
4. Mister Sun, artist Jim Holdaway (19 June – 5 Dec 1964)
Weng, Modesty’s houseboy, is blackmailed into drug-running for Mr Sun
5. The Mind of Mrs Drake, artist Jim Holdaway (7 Dec 1964 – 19 Apr 1965)
Modesty helps out when the investigation into psychic spy Mrs Drake goes wrong and endangers her friend.
6. Uncle Happy, artist Jim Holdaway (20 Apr – 18 Sep 1965)
Modesty and Willie investigate a supposed philanthropist, and Willie has to fight to the death with Modesty’s boyfriend.
7. Top Traitor, artist Jim Holdaway (20 Sep 1965 – 19 Feb 1966)
Tarrant is set up as a defector, but Fraser doesn’t believe it, and asks Modesty and Willie for help.
8. The Vikings, artist Jim Holdaway (21 Feb – 9 July 1966)
One of the old Network crew is involved with a new gang – the psychopathic Vikings.
8a. In the Beginning, artist Jim Holdaway (1966)
Modesty’s early life before she formed The Network.
9. The Head Girls, artist Jim Holdaway (11 July – 10 Dec 1966)
A bunch of superior secretaries appear to be linked to several shady deals.
10. The Black Pearl, artist Jim Holdaway (12 Dec 1966 – 22 Apr 1967)
Modesty pays off a debt of karma by agreeing to rescue the Black Pearl from the Chinese. It seems straightforward, until she discovers just what the Black Pearl is.
11. The Magnified Man, artist Jim Holdaway (24 Apr – 2 Sep 1967)
Willie accidentally blows a French agent’s cover, and must help prevent the crime she was investigating.
12. The Jericho Caper, artist Jim Holdaway (4 Sep 1967 – 13 Jan 1968)
A group of bandits raid the village where Modesty is staying, so she sets out to rescue the captives, against the wishes of her blind boyfriend.
13. Bad Suki, artist Jim Holdaway (15 Jan – 25 May 1968)
Modesty and Willie track down a drug pusher in hippy London.
14. The Galley Slaves, artist Jim Holdaway (27 May – 29 July, 10 Sep – 16 Nov 1968)
A crew filming on a replica Roman galley find themselves slaves for real when they are hijacked.
14a. The Killing Ground, artist Jim Holdaway (1968)
Bellman sets up a revenge killing, dumping Modesty and Willie on a remote island to be tracked down by three paid hunters.
15. The Red Gryphon, artist Jim Holdaway (18 Nov 1968 – 22 Mar 1969)
A mobster wants the old treasure hidden under the statue of the Red Gryphon. Modesty gets involved when he kills her boyfriend.
16. The Hell-Makers, artist Jim Holdaway (24 Mar 1969 – 16 Aug 1969)
Willie is kidnapped and drugged to try to force Modesty into framing two important scientists. Her way of burning the drugs out of his brain is uniquely her own.
[from Takeover]17. Takeover, artist Jim Holdaway (18 Aug 1969 – 10 Jan 1970)
The Cosa Nostra try to take over British crime gangs.
18. The Warlords of Phoenix, artist Jim Holdaway / Enrique Badia Romero (12 Jan 1970 – 30 May 1970)
Modesty and Willie set out to break up a Japanese apocalyptic cult after the daughter of a friend is nearly killed.
19. Willie the Djinn, artist Enrique Badia Romero (1 June 1970 – 17 Oct 1970)
Willie finds himself masquerading as a Djinn to save the young daughter of a sheik from his brother, who is trying to depose him.
20. The Green Eyed Monster, artist Enrique Badia Romero (19 Oct 1970 – 20 Feb 1971)
Willie and Modesty have to rescue to spoilt daughter of a diplomat, kidnapped by jungle rebels.
21. Death of a Jester, artist Enrique Badia Romero (22 Feb – 10 July 1971)
A gang of ex-soldiers are living a wild life, and may be involved in the theft of a secret missile.
22. The Stone Age Caper, artist Enrique Badia Romero (12 July – 27 Nov 1971)
Willie finds a young woman nearly dead in the Australian outback, and needs help from his Aborigine friends when her attackers return.
23. The Puppet Master, artist Enrique Badia Romero (29 Nov 1971 – 8 Apr 1972)
Modesty is kidnapped, and Willie sets out to track her down, helped by Maude Tiller. But Modesty has been brainwashed so that she will kill Willie the second she next sees him.
[from With Love from Rufus]24. With Love from Rufus, artist Enrique Badia Romero (10 Apr – 12 Aug 1972)
Modesty has a young criminal admirer, Inspector Brooke’s nephew.
25. The Bluebeard Affair, artist Enrique Badia Romero (14 Aug 1972 – 6 Jan 1973)
Rene Vaubois asks for Modesty’s help – he think’s his rich niece’s new husband is up to no good.
26. The Gallows Bird, artist Enrique Badia Romero (8 Jan 1973 – 12 May 1973)
Modesty and Willie attempt to save New Orleans from blackmailers, but Modesty ends up on the gallows.
27. The Wicked Gnomes, artist Enrique Badia Romero (14 May – 29 Sep 1973)
Salamander Four kidnap Maude Tiller and offer her in exchange for a spy – but Tarrant can’t make the deal.
28. The Iron God, artist Enrique Badia Romero (1 Oct 1973 – 9 Feb 1974)
Crashed in the jungle, Modesty and Willie are captured by O’Mara, and given the task of opening a huge safe full of diamonds.
29. "Take Me To Your Leader...", artist Enrique Badia Romero (11 Feb 1974 – 1 July 1974)
Modesty and Willie investigate an alien landing.
30. Highland Witch, artist Enrique Badia Romero (2 July 1974 – 16 Nov 1974)
Modesty rescues a young woman from the river, then must persuade her attempted killers she is a ghost, to rescue her uncle.
31. Cry Wolf, artist Enrique Badia Romero (18 Nov 1974 – 23 March 1975)
Tarrant fakes a kidnapping in Lapland, but it turns real.
32. The Reluctant Chaperone, artist Enrique Badia Romero (24 March 1975 – 14 Aug 1975)
Modesty has to babysit a 15-year-old teenage daughter of a friend, whilst stopping a Mafia takeover of Malta.
33. The Greenwood Maid, artist Enrique Badia Romero (15 Aug 1975 – 28 Dec 1975)
Modesty finds herself playing Maid Marian to a villainous friar Tuck, in a race to find hidden loot.
34. Those About to Die, artist Enrique Badia Romero (29 Dec 1975 – 31 May 1976)
A dying billionaire is determined to be remembered, by having real gladiators at his final party. His mistake is to include Willie and Modesty.
35. The Inca Trail, artist Enrique Badia Romero (1 June 1976 – 20 Oct 1976)
Willie and Modesty, involved in a private competition to travel the Inca trail, become separately embroiled in a revolution.
36. The Vanishing Dollybirds, artist Enrique Badia Romero (21 Oct 1976 – 28 Mar 1977)
Modesty and Willie break up a White Slaver ring, to help a circus friend whose sister has vanished.
37. The Junk Men, artist Enrique Badia Romero (29 Mar 1977 – 21 Aug 1977)
Whilst making a science fiction film, Modesty and Willie reluctantly take on a drug smuggling ring.
38. Death Trap, artist Enrique Badia Romero (22 Aug 1977 – 20 Jan 1978)
To humiliate Tarrant, Brosni wants to set up Modesty on a false charge of spying, so lures her to his country by having her boyfriend murdered in front of her.
39. Idaho George, artist Enrique Badia Romero (23 Jan 1978 – 16 Jun 1978)
A gang kidnap the con artist Idaho George, and accidentally kidnap Modesty, too.
40. The Golden Frog, artist John Burns (Jun 1978 – Oct 1978)
Combat master Saragam must betray Modesty and Willie, or his own granddaughter.
41. Yellowstone Booty, artist John Burns (1 Nov 1978 – 30 Mar 1979)
Lucy and Brad save Willie’s life, then Modesty and Willie must save them from Lucy’s lawyer.
42. Green Cobra, artist John Burns (2 Apr 1979 – 10 Aug 1979)
Fraser is resisting interrogation using Modesty as his "anchor", so, to break him, the gang set out to kill her in a spectacular way.
43. Eve and Adam, artist John Burns / Pat Wright (13 Aug 1979 – 4 Jan 1980)
A dotty philanthropist thinks the world is ending, so strands Modesty and Willie in the remote primitive Paradise Valley to "repopulate the Earth".
44. Brethren of Blaise, artist Pat Wright (7 Jan 1980 – 24 May 1980)
Modesty and Willie are forced to dive for treasure, for a gang masquerading as a cult trying to raise Merlin.
45. Dossier on Pluto, artist Neville Colvin (27 May 1980 – 14 Oct 1980)
Modesty helps Steve Taylor when his dolphin research is stolen.
46. The Lady Killers, artist Neville Colvin (15 Oct 1980 – 2 Mar 1981)
A group of female terrorists kidnap the daughter of a friend.
[from Garvin’s Travels]47. Garvin’s Travels, artist Neville Colvin (3 Mar – 27 July 1981)
Willie and Maude set off for a romantic holiday, but end up in Brobdingnag
48. The Scarlet Maiden, artist Neville Colvin (28 July – 16 Dec 1981)
Modesty and Willie discover an old wreck, then are "kidnapped" by divers who believe they have found their treasure
49. The Moon Man, artist Neville Colvin (17 Dec 1981 – 7 June 1982)
Modesty is blackmailed into supplying a list of British secret agents.
50. A Few Flowers for the Colonel, artist Neville Colvin (11 June – 21 Sep 1982)
Modesty recalls an adventure with a stuffy British Colonel
51. The Balloonatic, artist Neville Colvin (22 Sep 1982 – 17 Feb 1983)
Modesty, in a hot air balloon with a wacky Italian journalist, sees a killing
52. Death in Slow Motion, artist Neville Colvin (21 Feb – 16 July 1983)
Inspector Brook and his daughter are kidnapped and left to die slowly in the desert
53. The Alternative Man, artist Neville Colvin (19 July – 28 Nov 1983)
Modesty’s current boyfriend has a less pleasant other side.
54. Sweet Caroline, artist Neville Colvin (29 Nov 1983 – 19 Apr 1984)
"Sweet Caroline" runs an extortion racket, setting up gruesome murders of those who refuse to pay.
55. The Return of the Mammoth, artist Neville Colvin (24 Apr – 13 Sep 1984)
Willie must rescue his kidnapped elephant from Russia
56. Plato’s Republic, artist Neville Colvin (14 Sep 1984 – 6 Feb 1985)
Salamader Four kidnap Krolli and Modesty, the ransom is the old Network files.
57. The Sword of the Bruce, artist Neville Colvin (7 Feb – 2 July 1985)
Modesty and Willie help a young Scottish woman gain her inheritance.
58. Wild Boar, artist Neville Colvin (3 July 1985 – 20 Nov 1985)
Modesty and Willie must rescue Rene Vaubois from a Corsican gangster.
59. Kali’s Disciples, artist Neville Colvin (21 Nov 1985 – 16 April 1986)
Modesty and Willie carry out their guru Sivaji’s last request, hampered by a gang of Thugees.
[The Double Agent]60. The Double Agent, artist Neville Colvin (17 April 1986 – 15 Sep 1986)
Hakil has a doppelganger agent primed to kill Tarrant, with Modesty set to take the blame.
61. Butch Cassidy Rides Again, artist Enrique Badia Romero (16 Sept 1986 – 12 Feb 1987)
Modesty and Willie discover that The Wild Bunch are riding again, trying to terrorise a couple out of their ranch.
62. The Million Dollar Game, artist Enrique Badia Romero (13 Feb 1987 – 8 July 1987)
Modesty and Willie tackle big game poachers.
63. The Vampire of Malvesco, artist Enrique Badia Romero (9 July 1987 - 3 Dec 1987)
Modesty and Willie visit their Network friend Hans Braun, but Modesty is attacked by a vampire.
64. Samantha and the Cherub, artist Enrique Badia Romero (4 Dec 1987 – 6 Jun 1988)
Sam Brown helps Modesty and Willie rescue the kidnapped wife of Sir Gerald’s godson.
65. Milord, artist Enrique Badia Romero (9 June 1988 – 27 Sept 198)
Modesty and Willie get involved in snuffing out some snuff movie producers.
66. Live Bait, artist Enrique Badia Romero (28 Sept 1988 – 17 Feb 1989)
Modesty and Willie rescue the kidnapped daughter of an old Network friend.
67. The Girl from the Future, artist Enrique Badia Romero (20 Feb 1989 – 21 July 1989)
John Dall, Modesty and Willie get involved with a visitor from the future and a large quantity of gold.
68. The Big Mole, artist Enrique Badia Romero (24 July 1989 – 11 Dec 1989)
Modesty and Willie visit Sir Gerald, and get involved with an operation to recover an escaped mole. Willie gets to play a Roundhead in a Civil War re-enactment.
69. Lady in the Dark, artist Enrique Badia Romero (12 Dec 1989 – 8 Jun 1990)
Willie and Dinah Collier run into problems when searching for old treasure, and Dinah’s abilities to navigate in the dark save their lives.
70. Fiona, artist Enrique Badia Romero (9 April 1990 – 9 Oct 1990)
Modesty goes to help out at a hostpital, not knowing its medicines are being supplied by Mr Wu Smith, and that a holy man has foreseen that she will die. Willie brings an unexpected companion to help.
71. Walkabout, artist Enrique Badia Romero (10 Oct 1990 – 11 Mar 1991)
When the Mafia comes to Australia, Modesty and Willie call on their Aborigine friends.
72. The Girl in the Iron Mask, artist Enrique Badia Romero (12 Mar 1991 – 2 Aug 1991)
Two psychopathic billionaires arrange to have Modesty imprisoned in an iron mask, in order to drive her insane while they watch.
73. The Young Mistress, artist Enrique Badia Romero (5 Aug 1991 – 6 Jan 1992)
A young artist gets involved in a forgery scam.
74. Ivory Dancer, artist Enrique Badia Romero (7 Jan 1992 – 5 Jun 1992)
Sam Brown helps out in a horse theft.
75. Our Friend Maude, artist Enrique Badia Romero (8 Jun 1992 – 2 Nov 1992)
Maude Tiller is brainwashed to assassinate Rene Vaubois.
76. A Present for the Princess, artist Enrique Badia Romero (3 Nov 1992 – 8 Apr 1993)
While emerald hunting, Willie is attacked and loses his memory.
77. Black Queen’s Pawn, artist Enrique Badia Romero (13 Apr 1993 – 10 Sep 1993)
While searching for a prehistoric egg, Modesty is captured by treasure hunters.
78. The Grim Joker, artist Enrique Badia Romero (13 Sep 1993 – 9 Feb 1994)
Willie sets himself as bait for sick assassins.
79. Guido the Jinx, artist Enrique Badia Romero (10 Feb 1994 – 5 Jul 1994)
From stone age rafting to nuclear age parachuting.
80. The Killing Distance, artist Enrique Badia Romero (6 Jul 1994 – 30 Nov 1994)
The Red Admiral is determined to kill Tarrant.
81. The Aristo, artist Enrique Badia Romero (1 Dec 1994 – 3 May 1995)
Modesty and Willie escape Mr Wu Smith’s assassination attempt, only to be captured by pirates.
82. Ripper Jax, artist Enrique Badia Romero (4 May 1995 – 2 Oct 1995)
The daughter of a psychic friend has been kidnapped by gangsters. Or has she?
83. The Maori Contract, artist Enrique Badia Romero (3 Oct 1995 – 1 Mar 1996)
Tarrant’s nephew’s wife comes into an inheritance, and thence into danger. A Maori canoe helps save the day.
84. Honeygun, artist Enrique Badia Romero (4 Mar 1996 – 2 Aug 1996)
In Network days, an assassin saved Modesty’s life. Now it’s time to repay the debt.
85. Durango, artist Enrique Badia Romero (5 Aug 1996 – 3 Jan 1997)
Steve and Dinah Collier are kidnapped while prospecting for oil for John Dall. Modesty and Willie fly to the rescue, but their plan is thwarted by the gang’s leader.
86. The Murder Frame, artist Enrique Badia Romero (6 Jan 1997 – 6 Jun 1997)
Willie Garvin is framed for murder by an old enemy.
87. Fraser’s Story, artist Enrique Badia Romero (9 Jun 1997 – 3 Nov 1997)
Fraser goes to Panama to kill a traitor who caused the death of a hundred agents during the Cold War.
88. The Tribute to the Pharaoh, artist Enrique Badia Romero (4 Nov 1997 – 3 Apr 1998)
Modesty and Willie get caught up in ancient Egyptian treasure hunting.
89. The Special Orders, artist Enrique Badia Romero (6 Apr 1998 – 4 Sep 1998)
Modesty and Willie must save their protegee Sam from white slave traders.
90. The Hanging Judge, artist Enrique Badia Romero (7 Sep 1998 – 10 Feb 1999)
Modesty and Willie race to save a young woman who has been kidnapped and will be murdered to punish her father.
91. Children of Lucifer, artist Enrique Badia Romero (11 Feb 1999 – 13 Jul 1999)
At Dr Pennyfeather's insistence, Modesty and Willie try save Mafia drug barons from death at the hands of a bunch of fake Satanists.
92. Death Symbol, artist Enrique Badia Romero (14 Jul 1999 – 15 Dec 1999)
A Legionnaire who once saved Willie's life asks for help to rescue his daughter from renegade Chinese soldiers.
93. The Last Aristocrat
94. The Killing Game
95. The Zombie


Peter O'Donnell, Enrique Badia Romero.
Modesty Blaise.
Manuscript Press. 1989

(read but not reviewed)

Peter O'Donnell, Enrique Badia Romero.
The Girl From the Future (67).


Peter O'Donnell, Enrique Badia Romero.
The Big Mole (68).


Peter O'Donnell, Enrique Badia Romero.
Lady in the Dark (69).