Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dead Man's Handle


Modesty Blaise #12: “Dead Man’s Handle” by Peter O’Donnell. A group called the Hostel of Righteousness, headquartered on the island of Kalivari in the Cyclades, is run by an ex missionary, now Satanist, Thaddeus Pilgrim. His team of assassins takes assignments in the form of prayers. When the situation is taken care of they wait for big donations. In the meantime, they have a few scams also working for them to bring in millions of dollars. For instance, sinking a heavily insured ship supposedly loaded with cargo. Killing all sailors on board. They fear that one sailor may have talked about the scam to his wife, so send a team to assassinate her. However, she’s with Willy Garvin, who takes out the assassin. Now they want Willie, but not dead. The next team sets up a kill, breaking the girl’s neck, and when Will comes in he only sees one assassin. The second knocks him out from behind. Drugs him and takes him to Kalivari where he is brainwashed to kill Modesty when she comes after him. This was another typical Modesty Blaise adventure, with plenty of fast action. All the stories have similar plots, and similar characters. They are just presented differently, and with different names. Some nut case that decides they want Modesty and Willy, but in the end they are taken out by their targets. The reader knows what’s coming next, but this does not dampen the story. It’s the action and coordination between Modesty and Garvin that drives the plot. The villains are merely there to provide entertainment for them. This was the final novel in the series, and a good one. A final book of short stories is next, but I all ready know what will happen, and hesitate to read it. The author kills his characters off in “Cobra Trap” to prevent anyone else from ever writing new stories with his characters. I can understand his reasoning. I’ve seen what some writers have done with other characters in public domain, and I would hate to see Modesty and Garvin turned into something Peter O’Donnell hadn’t intended. Still, I hate to read that last story.

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