Modesty Blaise Bad Suki, by Peter O’Donnell and Jim Holdaway ISBN 184023864x
Five out of five stars
The three stories in this collection present Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin as the efficient killers that they can be when it is necessary. In most of their adventures, they go out of their way to avoid killing their adversaries, even when they have earned their deaths. Not so in this case, they are often quick to dispatch their enemies.
The first story is “Bad Suki” and opens with Willie saving a young woman on drugs from diving to her death from a tree. He then takes the woman to Modesty’s residence in an attempt to save her from further damage. This leads to Modesty and Willie being involved in trying to break up a drug ring. Both of them have only contempt for drug dealers, so they respond ruthlessly to the challenges. When the two of them are placed in a sealed box and dumped in the sea, Modesty demonstrates once again the complete trust she has in Willie to find a way out. That is one of the strongest features of the Modesty Blaise stories, how when one tells the other something in a crisis situation, there is no argument. Yet, it is clear that the final decision will always be made by Modesty.
The context for the second story is unusual, yet plausible. It is “The Galley Slaves” and most of the action takes place on a Roman galley slave ship where the rowers are indeed chained to their oars. There is no cheap resort to time travel, there is a sound justification for the scenario, which makes it all the more exciting. Modesty and Willie are free-lancing in an attempt to get a top-secret guidance system back from a criminal that they have dealt with in the past. When they worked with him, he was a much more honorable villain, but they learn quickly that he has changed for the worst.
The final story is “The Red Gryphon” and is set in Venice. In the opening, Modesty saves a male street child from being captured by the police. She learns that he is very loyal to his female companion and that they will not go to a home because that would mean that they would be split up. An architect that is also Modesty’s lover is supervising the remodeling of a building and there is a statue of a gryphon on the grounds.
When the owner learns that there is a fortune in jewels hidden in the statue, he turns greedy and ruthless, trying to kill all that know about the hidden prize. Of course, Modesty and Willie are two of the intended victims and he learns that even being shot does not deter the two of them from fighting back with efficient precision. Especially when they are defending children and each other.
Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin are one of the most efficient and interesting hero teams ever created. Modesty was one of the first female action heroes and she remains the best of all time. All of her stories should be made into movies with plots beyond the simple beat-em-up and destroy scenarios of the current super hero movies being made.