10 of the Greatest Cold War Spy Novels from Flavorwire highlighted a book and series I had never heard of:
The Impossible Virgin, Peter O’Donnell (1971)
“In 1953, O’Donnell created his comic-strip character Modesty Blaise as a female version of Bond; the strip was sexy and violent in a way unknown to stateside comics pages. A street urchin who grew into a powerful organized-crime leader, Modesty (and her platonic tough-guy sidekick Willy Garvin) is now reformed, sort of, and working for the British Secret Service. The novel Modesty Blaise (1965) was O’Donnell’s novelization of his (mostly ignored) screenplay for Joseph Losey’s 1966 film of the same name. The warm critical and popular response to Modesty in novel form led to a long-running series. Alone among such fun Bond-era spies as The Avengers and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Modesty enjoys an enviable body of quality prose fiction. Modesty rarely engaged in Cold War themes, but in The Impossible Virgin she does.”
An interesting glimpse into the culture and issue of the time. Tracing a character from comic strip to movie to novels over the course of decades.