Modesty Blaise: Ripper Jax

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Continuing the only complete collection of Modesty Blaise adventures! The return of the ‘ass-kicking femme fatale’. Full of classic action and adventure and dripping with 60’s chic.

My Review:

It’s a least thirty years since I read any type of comic strip fiction, it took me a while to settle back into it but once I did it was great fun. I had never heard of the Modesty Blaise books even though they were published over a period of around forty years. They did feel a little dated with the style of writing and the illustrations but it didn’t stop me enjoying the four different stories that are in this collection.
Ripper Jax, the first story in this collection was my favourite one, it was a good introduction to Modesty and Willie. There wasn’t really any mention of how they met or previous missions so I just read each of the stories as stand alone. The main point that came across in each story was that every member of the team were loyal to their friends and devoted to each other. If they owed a favour or somebody was in trouble they would try their hardest to rectify the situation.
I imagine that the series has a big following for those that love this type of fiction, for me it was a complete change. Not something I would read regularly but one that I would dip into every now and again.

With thanks to Titan Books for the copy received.

The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes by Michael Kurland

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Fine and Dandy chorine Lydia Laurent’s strangled, nude body, accompanied by two complete suits of clothing, has been found in Central Park, and now Two-Headed Mary and Billie Trask are missing too. Since the police are as helpless as they always are in 1935, it falls to New York World columnist Alexander Brass and his cheerfully wide-eyed sidekick Morgan DeWitt to dig up the truth

My thoughts:

The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes is the second stand alone novel to feature Brass, Morgan and Gloria. I hadn’t read the first book or any of the series featuring Professor Moriarty but I plan to do so very soon.
Morgan is a trusted employee of Brass alongside Gloria and Garrett. He is a struggling novelist who relies on his tact and wit to stay in employment. He isn’t a New Yorker and doesn’t understand the Broadway slang. So he is initially very confused when the team are asked to look into the disappearance of ‘Two Headed Mary’ and whether it is linked to the disappearance of Billie Trask and the murder of Lydia Laurant. Luckily Brass understood, and offered to help. They found that people were more willing to talk to them rather than the police.
I loved the humour throughout the novel, there are some cracking one liners, mainly from Morgan when he is describing the people of New York. The names of the characters as well, ‘Pearly’ Gates is just one of many. It’s also very descriptive, I could imagine New York in the 1930s, recovering from the depression and prohibition. The theatre district and the bars/diners all feature strongly along with the people connected to both.
I loved this book, the author combines crime and humour very well.

I am very grateful to Titan Books for sending me this book to review, and for  the introduction to an author I had never read before.

The Blood Strand by Chris Ould

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Having left the Faroes as a child, Jan Reyna is now a British police detective, and the Islands are foreign to him. But he is drawn back when his estranged father is found unconscious, a shotgun by his side and someone else’s blood in his car. Then a man’s body is found, a shotgun wound in his side, but signs that he was suffocated. Is his father responsible for the man’s death? Jan must decide whether to stay or forsake the Faroe Islands for good.

My thoughts:
The Blood Strand is the first book in a new detective series that is set in the Faroe Islands. At the start of the novel there is a map showing the location of the Faroes and a guide on pronunciation. I was grateful for both, not knowing where they were and I am one of those readers that prefer to pronounce characters names correctly.
Jan had left the Faroes with his mother when he was very young and apart from a disastrous visit in his teens had no contact with his father. Neither had he met any of the other members of his family.
He had recently been suspended from his job with the British police but details are only hinted at, and his family in the UK encouraged him to make the trip to see his father.
He develops a good relationship with Hjalti Hentz, the investigating officer who is frustrated by the lack of interest shown by a senior officer. Jan offers advice and tells him how he would look at the case if it had occurred in the UK. The investigation into his father is only part of the story. Jan also wanted to understand why his mother left the islands but was struggling to get answers from either the family or people who knew her when she left. I have a feeling that more will be revealed in future novels. I thought I had solved the case but I was mistaken. There were quite a few twists that I hadn’t seen.
Jan’s account is told in the first person and the rest of the novel is told in the third person and it worked quite well, even when it switched frequently. I found the novel to be much lighter than Nordic Noir novels that I have read in the past. Maybe because much of it is told by an outsider’s point of view.

I would like to thank Titan Books for the copy received for review. The Blood Strand will be published on 16th February 2016.