Modesty Blaise
The Gallows Bird

Author: Peter O'Donnell
Artist: Enric Badia Romero
Titan Books
RRP: 11.99, US $17.95, Cdn $23.95
ISBN 1 84023 868 2
Available 23 June 2006

Modesty and her partner, Willie Garvin, head to New Orleans for a holiday... but stumble onto a plan of murder and blackmail in
The Gallows Bird. Also in this collection, Modesty investigates a fatal family in The Bluebeard Affair, an old friend is kidnapped in The Wicked Gnomes, and there's trouble in the jungle in The Iron God. Plus an exclusive look at censored Gallows Bird strips and Enric Romero's sketchbook...

The Gallow's Bird collects together another four classic Modesty Blaise tales. Each story has an introduction by writer Peter O'Donnell, who admits that he had to reread most of these tales as he couldn't remember what happened in them. There are also plenty of background tales on little things, like the Laurel and Hardy gag that was never used in The Wicked Gnomes, or his research on Pidgin English for The Iron God.

First up is The Bluebeard Affair, in which Modesty and Willie investigate a man who seems to be unlucky in love. His wives don't stick around for very long - disappearing under mysterious circumstances. It soon becomes obvious that his two daughters, with his knowledge and approval, kill each of his wives to ensure that he can collect on the insurance. But Willie also has problems of his own - in the form of one beautiful foreign circus performer who wants him to marry her.

In The Gallow's Bird, Modesty and Willie discover the body of a man handing in a warehouse. Their resulting investigation puts them on the trail of a couple of murderers who enjoy nothing more than seeing their victims swinging from a rope. When Modesty's neck is in the noose, and the trapdoor swings open beneath her, how can she hope to survive?

The Wicked Gnomes is the oddest story in this collection. It sees Modesty and Willie going undercover at a to track down the kidnappers of Pauline Brown. Modesty has to dress as the Fairy Queen, while Willie is an inhabitant of Fairyland. It also sees the return of Maude Tiller - Willie's love interest.

In The Iron God, Modesty and Willie make an emergency landing in the jungles of New Guinea when their plane experiences a mechanical failure. Saving a girl from certain death, they soon make enemies of a local tribe. They are soon introduced to The Iron God, a white man whom Willie knows of old - a murderer who has been hiding out in the jungle.

I personally enjoyed the first two tales the most. The Wicked Gnomes and The Iron God I found a little dull in comparison. But, having said that, all four stories are entertaining enough and will keep Modesty Blaise fans entertained.

Pete Boomer

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