This is my third Modesty Blaise book (see also Modesty Blaise and A Taste for Death). It’s a story collection rather than a novel, with five adventures spanning the career of Modesty and her lieutenant Willie Garvin from their early days in North Africa up to semi-retirement 40 years later.
The first story opens with a flashback to the days when Modesty ran The Network, a multinational criminal organisation based in Tangier. Criminal but good-hearted: The Network stands firm against vice and narcotics. Modesty and Willie team up to eliminate a drugs baron named Bellman, running him to ground in Peru and handing him over to the authorities. But Bellman has a long memory…
The Dark Angels
In this story Willie and Modesty are pitched against an infallible assassination ring.
They called themselves The Dark Angels. When planning or executing an operation they took on their professional personas and used only names suited to those personas, names from the hierarchy of demonology – Asmodeus, Belial and Aruga. They worked exclusively for a small non-profitmaking organisation in the City of London.
The Angels have been sent to eliminate an American supermarket tycoon called Howard A. Keyes, Gus for short. Modesty and Willie are charmed by Gus’s down-to-earth nature and bravery, but all is not quite as it seems.
This one opens with Modesty trapped by an unseen assailant and starving in a cave in the French Pyrenees. The kindly peasant who rescues her, Alex, proves to have a mysterious past and is the first link in the chain which leads to the demise of the criminal gang the Salamander Four.
The Girl with the Black Balloon
Modesty and Willie are again reluctantly summoned by Sir Gerald Tarrant to solve a problem his Intelligence Service cannot. A gang of kidnappers has been extorting millions from different governments, using the guise of different oddball organisations as cover. This time they have snatched a Norwegian Nobel peace-prize winner and hidden him away in a Cornish manor house while they wait for a ransom. The house can only be approached by air, but luckily Willie has recently made the acquaintance of the libidinous Lucy Fuller-Jones, owner of a black balloon. There’s only one problem – the Norwegian won’t stand for violence.
The final story features a more mature Modesty and Willie, now in their 50s. It is set in the small South American Republic of Montelero, where the mathematician Professor Stephen Collier and his wife Dinah (who met in A Taste for Death), have been advising the government. Unfortunately that government has fallen, and Willie and Modesty have to get them out before rebel forces get to them.
Final destination: A keeper
Past Offences by Rich Westwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.