Cooler than James Bond

Modesty Blaise is ... well, self-actualized. How about that? She is in total control of herself. She has the normal attributes of a hero: fighting ability, money, skill with weapons, fatally attractive. But several things put the Blaise novels above the pack. Morals, an unwillingness to kill unless forced to, and a suitably strong male sidekick - who she never has sex with. And a degree of self-composure, a sort of secular spirituality, that is well described. She's always in command of the situation without ever being arrogant.

Modesty and Willy travel the world as unofficial agents for British counter-espionage stopping various dastardly plots. O'Donnell makes you worry for her as he constructs suitably difficult situations and then has her plausibly overcome them.

Don't confuse these well-written stories with the horrible movie from the 60's.


Crime amid the decline of Florida

No less a personage than Mike Rowe terms this the best pulp fiction ever.

The hero, Travis McGee lives on a houseboat in Florida and acts as a private eye for various people. He's tall, a lady killer, a great fighter. And he has sour comments on the decline of Florida to over development. As much as he can he lives "off the grid" - operating in cash, trying to leave no paper trail. This is not because he is suspect, he just doesn't like people tracking him.

No real sidekick, but his neighbor in the next boat over is a world famous economist.

Last modified 9/20/10; original content © 2010 John P. Nordin