Dead Man's Handle

DeadMansHandleDead Mans Handle


Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin seem to have created a false impression. Doctor Thaddeus Pilgrim, the sadistic master of a powerful religious sect centered in the Hostel of Righteousness on the Greek island of Kalivari, believes that they have learned of his Master Plan and mean to thwart it. By the time he discovers his mistake, he has shown his hand too far; now he must either kill them or force them to join his organization. At all costs, nothing must happen to upset his most ambitious scheme: the Hallelujah Scenario.


Thaddeus Pilgrim stirred a spoonful of ground glass into the tray holding the jackdaw's birdseed, then carefully clipped the tray back inside the cage. He did not quite recall when and why he had decided to kill the bird in this fashion, and did not anticipate deriving any particular gratification from the event. It was simply a small scenario which had involuntarily presented itself to hirn and he was now far beyond the point where he questioned such scenarios or pondered what motive might prompt them.
"How very interesting, Mrs. Ram," he said. "One might almost say how extraordinarily interesting. If Modesty Blaise is now in Athens, as you report, it would seem to indicate — though of course one must be wary of making too ready assumptions — it would, as I say, seem to indicate that she has traced our — ah, our guest, Mr. Garvin, thus far."
"Following study of detailed dossiers," she announced, "copies of which have been provided by Salamander Four Organisation at cost of fifteen thousand dollars, Dr. Tyl has made positive statement that it is psychologically certain Miss Blaise will knowingly enter a trap in order to reach Mr. Garvin, relying on her abilities and experience to effect later extrication. Therefore scenario requires only that we present her with opportunity so to do."
"To . . . ah, to enter our trap, Mrs. Ram?"
"Precisely so, Dr. Pilgrim. Approach must be subtle, of course, but dossiers have provided data enabling us to feed information to Modesty Blaise via a source she will deem to be totally trustworthy." She referred to her clipboard. "There is a male person named Krolli, a Greek who was one of her chief lieutenants in the days of The Network. He is no longer engaged in crime, but retains many contacts. Modesty Blaise has been seeking him, but he has been away on a business trip to America and is due back this evening. It is certain she will ask him to secure news of Mr. Garvin, and I have arranged that appropriate news be fed to Kro!li from a source under our control within forty-eight hours."
With the tendrils of his mind that were present in the study, Thaddeus Pilgrim reflected that in certain ways Mrs. Ram quite resembled the jackdaw, and with this thought floated the vague speculation, unsupported by intention, as to what effect a good dose of ground glass might have upon her. "From what you tell me," he said tentatively, "it appears that I would not be wrong, not even perhaps optimistic, were I to anticipate the completion of our little scenario within a few days now, dear lady."
Mrs. Ram smiled. "I was hoping to effect culmination on the sabbath," she said, and touched her thigh where long ago she had been branded as his acolyte. "Just for old times' sake, Doctor."

Peter O´Donnell, Dead Mans Handle, 1985