Modesty Blaise: Million Dollar Game, by Peter O’ Donnell and Enric Badia Romero
Five out of five stars
This book contains three adventures of the incredible team of Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. In all three cases, they are engaging in what is for them recreational activities when the circumstances dictate that they get involved in dangerous games.
In the first story, Modesty and Willie are riding the Old Outlaw trail in the western United States. They arrive at what they think is a ghost town, only to discover it is now a tourist attraction and a mock shoot-out is being staged.
When a real bullet is fired into the leg of one of the players, Modesty stems the bleeding and saves his life. This is the first act in their thwarting of what is an attempted land grab for monetary gain. Many of the locals are involved, including law enforcement. This story also demonstrates one of the features that makes the Modesty Blaise stories so effective, the strength of the supporting characters.
The second story opens with Modesty and Willie rescuing an abused donkey and meeting a local veterinarian that falsely accuses Modesty of being the abuser. It does not take long for the truth to be revealed and for Modesty to take the vet as a lover.
The story fast forwards to years in the future, where Modesty is touring Africa by herself and rescues a man from a mugging. It turns out to be the vet she met years ago. He is now working for a wildlife organization, trying to reduce the poaching of big game for ivory and other products. The poaching gang is very well organized, armed and ruthless, so it takes all of the skills that Modesty and eventually Willie possess in order to defeat them.
In the third story, Modesty and Willie are engaged in one of their competitions with the spoils being a bottle of champagne. They are separately trekking overland to a castle in Transylvania, where a former member of the Network now resides. Willie gets there first and wins the prize, but they discover that there is the apparent rebirth of the vampire legend.
They quickly discover that the legend has been deliberately fueled by the most powerful terrorist group in Europe, called “Europe’s Fist.” They are ruthless and set out to kill Modesty, Willie, the former member of the Network and his wife. As is usually the case with opponents of Modesty and Willie, the members of Europe’s Fist dramatically underestimate the quality of their opponents.
This is a set of three great stories featuring the most unusual team of comic heroes. While they have no superpowers, they are fiendishly clever, superb fighters and have a platonic love for each other that has no bounds. Also, while they are equals, in all significant cases it is Modesty that is in charge.