I know I speak for many others in recording my thanks to Rick for keeping
us informed, amused and challenged by his "Thoughts of the Day."
And I'd like to take this opportunity to say publicly what I've been telling
him off-list for months: it's through his generosity and inspiration
that the Quiller world can meet on the Quiller Scholar's Page to share
our specializations and further our understanding of our favorite author.
Rick has kindly given me the chance to pick five of my favorite "Thoughts."
To use a favorite Quillerism of mine, no one will be shooting down the
chandeliers with amazement to learn that this was no easy task, but I finally
whittled them down. I've tried to spread them over the novels and
to choose them for their representative quality as well as their personal
appeal. Here they are; I know everyone will enjoy them as much as
• "Who's Hunting
Who Here?" [The Sinkiang Executive]
I have a personal interest in this "Thought" because it confirmed in
my mind that The Sinkiang Executive can be read as a stunning modernist
novel (and it gave rise to a lot of thoughts of my own). Rick really
brings out the strangeness and resonance of this text, Quiller's relationship
with Kirinski being a good example. I also like the way Rick assumes
that a text's being thought of as popular culture is no bar on anyone's
pointing to the intelligence of the writing.
[The Sinkiang Executive]
Sinkiang is such a good novel that I've chosen a second "Thought" which
shows just how complex its construction is. Rick's extended meditation
on the concept of silence brings out the novel's wonderful lyrical quality
as well as the subtleties of its metaphoric power. It was a toss-up
between this one and the excellent "Mirror Images" from Quiller KGB [05/13]
which is a similarly acute reading of the window-ledge scene.
Q" [Quiller's Run]
I chose this one as a representative of the way Rick helps me formulate
my suspicion that Q is actually a real person who might be that guy on
the other side of the plane, or the person in the car behind me!
You can't read Adam Hall for as long as I have, and not think of Q as an
old friend, quirky, irritating at times, dangerous at others, but one with
whom a long familiarity has built up. Here I think Rick carries to
perfection that uncanny feeling that Q is both possessed of competencies
to which we could never aspire, and drives which we don't share, and yet
also someone we know intimately.
the Invisible" [Northlight]
Northlight is my favorite novel, but I thought I'd got the measure
of all its complex and haunting qualities...until I read this. Rick
brings out each telling detail in the way Hall represents Q's interaction
with even a minor character to construct not only a sense of the moment,
but also a more general speculation on identity. We also get a feeling
for the way Hall can handle so many elements within a scene without ever
letting go of the narrative drive.
Status and the Bureau Hierarchy" [The Scorpion Signal]
Regular TOTD readers will know Rick's vexed relationship with Croder!
This post starts the whole thing off and it's also a good example of the
way he brings to bear on the Q-orpus his professional skills in the study
how organizations function. As someone whose reading skills are not
very adept in understanding these larger pictures, I always find Rick's
"Thoughts" on this topic a great resource.
Well, I'm conscious of how many I had to leave out! Even the
titles give me a buzz when they show up during my working day! Remember
"Fane! I want to live for ever!"? But you know where the Quiller
Q-alendar is, so everyone can pick his or her own!