Peter O'Donnell, the writer of the Modesty Blaise books and comic strips, has passed away.
I started reading the comic strip collections and his novels in college, and he quickly became my "gateway drug" into mysteries. (Elmer Grape, a most excellent bookseller and mystery fan, would always have something else for me when I came in for another Modesty Blaise book: "How about Robert Crais? Dana Stabenow? " etc. I miss him, too.) The stories are a bit dated, but they hold up remarkably well.
I never got a chance to meet Mr. O'Donnell--the closest I came was getting some books signed by him while he was in London. I was in Austin at the time...
It's another Wonders of the Internets Story--I was running publications for Bouchercon (World Mystery Convention) several years ago, and was keeping an eye on the rec.arts.mystery newsgroup. (raise your hand if you remember newsgroups...) A bookshop in London posted that he was coming in to sign books in a month, and I emailed them to ask if I could mail some in to get signed, if I also bought a couple of new editions. A couple of months later, they delivered the books to me at Bouchercon. Apparently, Mr. O'Donnell had been delighted to sign for a fan from Texas, especially since he had never seen the editions I had sent in!
Those books? Are high on the "rub back inside the burning house to retrieve them" list. I recommend them to fans of strong women and really excellent escapist literature.