Taken purely as a character, Modesty Blaise is flipping great. An international adventurer, she’s enigmatic, endlessly resourceful, a physical match for anybody and effortlessly in charge of every room she enters. With beauty as well, she is the Bond girl who never was, the one who would completely emasculate Bond. Absolutely as a character she is great, I just wish I liked the book around her more.
It’s amusing enough, but it’s nowhere near as gripping as it should be. The action passages are curiously unexciting, its various locales feel like painted back-drops and most of its characters struggle to raise their head above caricature. Clearly very much part of the spy trend of the 1960s, O’Donnell’s prose owes a lot to Fleming, but Fleming understood that to make this kind of thing work – you need a sharpened razor just visible below the exotic glamour.
I’ve never read any of O’Donnell’s comic strips or seen the film, but I have watched the trailer and don’t think I really want to. And given trailers are supposed to encourage you to watch this film, this one really counts as a miss.
My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free! A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!