The Modesty Blaise books -- worth seeking out?

I’ve never read one of the books, nor seen any of the movies, nor read any of the comic strips. Other than knowing a very little bit about the character second-hand I am a Modesty Blaise virgin.

However, I am very familiar with Peter O’Donnell’s non-Modesty Blaise books, written under the pseudonym Madeliene Brent. I love those books, which were written during the heyday of the ‘Gothic Romance,’ and are usually billed that way. They bear no real resemblance to the typical '70s style Gothic, though, but are wonderful, exciting books filled with competent, brave and intelligent women leading adventurous lives in fascinating places.

Very recently I discovered that Madeleine Brent and Peter O’Donnell were one and the same and I’ve been thinking about finding the Modesty Blaise books to see if I’d like them as well as his other books.

I’d really love to hear from someone who has read both the Modesty Blaise books and the Brent ones. Is the writing style at all similar? Because I love the Brent books so much, I’m a bit afraid I’ll be disappointed… This is why I’ve been dragging my feet. Any input anyone?

I’ve never read any Madeleine Brent books and wasn’t aware of the connection with Peter O’Donnell until now. But I have read several of the Modesty Blaise books and they’re pretty well written. Unless you dislike the action/espionage genre entirely, I’d recommend them.

I have read all the Modesty Blaise books, and enjoy them very much. On the strength of them, I sought out a couple of the Madeleine Brent books.

The Modesty Blaise books are action-adventure, leavened with a good amount of humor and humanity in the heroine (and her sidekick, Willie Garvin). They are also of their time, with the Commies often being the villians. I would recommend you give them a try, especially if you can find one of the first few. The last couple in the series are weaker. They are much more “over the top” than the Madeliene Brent stories. Note: bad things can happen to a Peter O’Donnell heroine!

The 1966 movie, MODESTY BLAISE, with Dirk Bogarde as the villain, is a hoot. It’s pure 1960s, it’s played for laughs, and it’s great fun. (I haven’t read the books.)

My wife loves the Modesty Blaise books. She collected all of them and then went out and collected all the comic strips.

She’s not sure if she ever read the Brent books. If so, it was so long ago she doesn’t remember them and didn’t know about the O’Donnell connection.

We’ve never seen it, but the fan community says that My Name Is Modesty is much better and truer to the books than the 1966 movie, which is too awful to sit through, camp or not.

There’s also a 1982 TV pilot Modesty Blaise that nobody has seen.

With Terrence Stamp as Willie Garvin… :sigh:

If anyone is watching Hustle on BBC America (or elsewhere), I think Jamie Murray needs to play MB pronto. Especially after the episode where they she’s locked in the vault, moving around laser beams, wearing a tight black jump suit (an obvious hommage).

Some more pics. Pic, pic, pic.

Oh, and the books are good for their type. No worse than Crichton, Grisham or Clany.

The Modesty Blaise movies are really nothing like the Modesty Blaise books. It’s pretty much standard for the spy genre; authors can take the genre seriously and write the books straight but movie-makers somehow can’t believe in the subject and insist on making what are essentially parodies. In a few movies, like the early James Bond movies, the parody is still fairly mild. But within a few years, the movie-makers were making parodies of these parodies and went way too far over the top.

There’s also a 1982 TV pilot Modesty Blaise that nobody has seen.

Hey! I remember planning on watching that TV-movie way back when! I knew about the Modesty Blaise character and I thought Ann Turkel was gorgeous! Then somehow I missed it, and this was several years before I owned a VCR. Arrgghh! I always regretted missing the movie – even if it was really bad, I would have enjoyed seeing the lovely Ms. Turkel in action!

I saw the Modesty Blaise TV pilot. I was young and impressionable at the time, but I thought it was cool, despite a few obvious miscastings: The guy cast as Willie looked nothing like the book/comic strip character (black hair, for a start) and played him too much on the dumb side, apparently in the belief that a tough muscle guy ought to be a little stupid. (Willie, of course, was anything but stupid.) Gerald Tarrant was played by a bald guy with a black mustache who was also too young for the part.

Ann Turkel was good, though, and the scriptwriters made some effort to capture the wit of the original. Thug Modesty’s just ambushed: “Where did you come from?” Modesty: “You mean your mother never told you?” And there was plenty of action, of course; the first fight scene is in a posh concert hall with everyone in evening clothes, and Modesty grabs the skirt of her long dress, rips most of it off with one pull, and leaps into action.

I’ve got all the Blaise books, and have bought half a dozen of the comic strip reprint volumes so far. If the essay in one of the comic strip books hadn’t mentioned the fact, I would still have no idea O’Donnell ever wrote romance novels.

Well, keep in mind they were very unlike your typical ‘romance novel.’

I ordered the first novel, on y’all’s say so. I’m looking forward to getting it in a couple of days.

Try to get at least one of the comic collections, as well. I felt like the books were good, but dated. The comics seem more timeless.

Ah, the perforated Hollywood dress, available nowhere else in the universe except on screen.

Actually, in the comics, the lower part of her dress is fastened with velcro, specifically to let her rip it off and use it as a duelist’s cloak.

Yes, I like both the books and the comics.
The fight descriptions convey the action, and O’Donnell moves the story along well.