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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

SO PASSES ONE OF THE GREATS OF CRIME FICTION: R.I.P. PETER O'DONNELL (1920-2010), CREATOR OF MODESTY BLAISE

Peter O'Donnell, creator of Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin: one of the best goddamned writers of character-driven crime fiction I've ever encountered.

It is with the deepest sadness that I inform you of the death of Peter O'Donnell, soldier during WWII, comics writer, novelist — both under his own name and that of romance scribe Madeleine Brent — and creator of two of my all-time favorite characters in anything, the incomparable Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. I've written extensively on Modesty Blaise and her adventures in the past and I'm currently in the midst of taking a break from re-reading LAST DAY IN LIMBO (1976) so I can finish Pam Grier's auto-biography, but I may resume following Modesty and Willie as they wreak havoc against the machinations of the villainous (and kinky) Paxero so I can post a review as my personal send-off to this one of a kind author.

Rest well, Mr. O'Donnell. I speak for your worldwide fans when I say thank you for all the great stories, but most of all I thank you for characters as unique in every sense of the word as Modesty and Willie. My life and the lives of many others would have been a lot less rich without their fictional presence.

A side note: Among my regrets about the passing of O'Donnell is that with his death the future of Modesty and Willie is in jeopardy, because now who is there to serve as a watchdog against them being turned to crap by filmmakers who don't understand the characters? Quentin Tarantino is a fellow Blaise junkie and even he, a guy who certainly could get a Modesty Blaise movie made, feels that it's simply not worth doing unless there's a script up to the standards of O'Donnell's writing and characters, so I'm dreading what may come...

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