O'Donnell, Peter - 'A Taste for Death'
Willie Garvin is pearl fishing when he comes across two young girls being attacked on a lonely island. Too late to save one of the girls he manages to rescue the other - a young blind woman called Dinah. He manages to get them both to a safe house but has to contact Modesty Blaise for help to get them to the UK since old enemies are involved.
Meanwhile Modesty is asked by her friend, Tarrant, to meet with an archaeologist, Aaronson, who is concerned about his colleague who is working on excavations in Algeria. Promising that she will follow up Tarrant's concerns Modesty travels to Panama City to arrange for Willie and Dinah's safe return. She is expected and her enemies - Gabriel and McWhirter are eagerly waiting for her, planning to settle old scores with Modesty and Willie and to recapture Dinah whose specialist skills they need.
Modesty and Willie decide that they must settle with Gabriel and McWhirter once and for all but find to their cost that another old enemy of Willie's is also involved. Simon Delicata is a huge man, who kills without compunction but who is dangerous because he feels no pain and seems indestructible. They find that the mystery of why Dinah's skills are needed and also the excavations that so concerned Aaronson are linked and travel out to Algeria to discover the truth.
A TASTE FOR DEATH is a roller-coaster of a book and very difficult to put down. All the characters are well written and I found myself mentally "casting" the film, as the writing is very visual. The writing is full of pace which moves the story on at a cracking speed but I did not feel that this was at the cost of the storyline or essential information. Since it was written in the late 1960s there are some anomalies - mainly around costs and technologies but these are very minor and do not stand out or irritate. The story is very relevant today, involving people who equate being rich with deserving more of everything than the "little people" and who are prepared to do anything to get what they want.
I was a fan when the books were originally published, much preferring them to the books about a much better known popular spy series but I had forgotten just how well written the Modesty Blaise books are and will be re-reading them all as soon as I can.
Recommended as a good read - a blast from the past and a real treat.
Susan White, England
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