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Quiller Memorandum is the first espionage novel from Adam Hall in the Quiller series and the only one of his books, to date, to be filmed though the blurb on my copy of this book does suggest that there was once a short-lived BBC series also produced and based on Quiller's adventures.
Quiller is a man with no name (Q being his designated code reference), no physical description and no past who works for a bureau in the British Goverment that does not officially exist and is not recognised by any of the official Secret Services. When a job needs doing that needs no trace, no come-backs and no association with any official Intelligence Department, Quiller is just one of several Agents that they turn to. Quiller believes in being self-sufficent, does not believe in working with any Cover and often enters the field unarmed and with no Suicide Pill. Preferring just to get in, do what is required and just get out again with the minimum of fuss or attention.
In this first excursion, Quiller is in Berlin; helping behind the scene on the Z Commission tracking down escaped Nazi War Criminals and helping gather evidence to bring them to trial. After six months undercover, he is all finished and ready to return to London when he is approached by a Handler with information about a Neo-Nazi terrorist cell intent on rebuilding the remnants of The Third Reich and bringing Germany once more to the fore-front of Europe as a leading Power in the arms race. Initially Quiller is not interested until his Handler drops the name of someone Quiller once crossed paths with when he worked undercover during the war to free imprisoned Jews from the infamous Nazi Death Camps.
With the knowledge that two previous Agents have been killed for getting too close, Quiller knows that taking on this mission will instantly make him a "Red Target" but finds it impossible to refuse because of his past association making it a little bit personal. And so, Quiller is thrown straight into the lion's den and is forced to hit the ground running when the enemy immediately take an interest.
What follows is a tense and very competent spy thriller with lots of twists and turns. Told entirely from Quiller's own point of view, we only learn what Quiller wants us to know as he wants us to know it and, along the way, find ourselves being drawn deep into the Agents very hazardous existence with very little clue as to how it will all turn out. Unlike with Fleming's Bond, there are no gadgets, no meglomaniacs threatening World Domination, merely a very believable and credible threat and a thriller that is about as authentic as any espionage novel can ever hope to get!
There are several points where Quiller goes into some detail out-lining some of the techniques and skills he employs in going about the success of his mission and at no point do these ever stretch belief. Everything out-lined here comes across as very believable and realistic until you find yourself almost wondering how much of this is fiction and how much based on real Espionage methods employed by those in the field!
This is one of those series' that it would be very easy to overlook but to do this would be a very grave error of judgement. If you are at all interested in highly competent spy thrillers that you can really get your teeth into, then you really need to track down this author and check out his work!
The Quiller Memorandum is not just the first in an excellent series of novels, it is also a fine example of just how good authentic spy drama can be! If you have not picked up any of these books before, trust me you are really missing a treat!