Modesty Blaise: Live Bait, by Peter O’ Donnell and Enric Badia Romero ISBN 9780857686688
Five out of five stars
The three stories in this collection demonstrate Modesty and Willie at their best, challenging their opponents and besting them any way they can. To emerge victorious, they must take great risks, using all their cunning expertise when battling great odds.
The title of the collection is from the third story, where a very bad adversary from their past has kidnapped the daughter of one of Modesty’s former female associates. The name of the man is Malik and he demands a ransom to be delivered by Modesty. It is clear that Malik has no real interest in the money, his goal is revenge. This story demonstrates the respect and loyalty that Willie has for Modesty. When she orders him to leave with the girl after Modesty is shot, Willie does not hesitate to navigate the boat to shore. All the while swearing vicious revenge if Modesty is killed.
The second story is one that has the return of the obnoxious Guido Biganzoli, he knocks on the door when Modesty is in the act of enjoying a hot bath. At first she is ready to boot him out of her room, but when he explains that it is a case of trafficking naive young women for the making of sex tapes and an occasional genuine snuff film, Modesty is all in. Outnumbered and outgunned against ruthless killers, Modesty, Willie and Guido best the bad men and free the women sex slaves.
The first story is one that has a light-hearted bent. Samantha is a feisty girl that invites Willie to her martial arts class. When the woman that Willie is driving back to a dinner rendezvous with her husband and Modesty is kidnapped, Willie and Modesty take it very personally. With the aid of Samantha and her gang of kids on bikes, they are able to track the kidnappers down. Samantha is portrayed as a young version of Modesty, a fact that both Modesty and Willie recognize. One of the lightest moments is when Samantha is bossing her biker older brother and he follows her emphatically delivered instructions.
The Modesty Blaise character first appeared in 1963 at a time when women characters were generally expected to scream and faint at the first sign of danger. She was strong, intelligent, powerful and determined, a character that blazed trails for other women characters in fiction. Modesty is also beautiful and sexy, something that she exploits on occasion when she needs the advantage. This is a great book.