A more serious version of James Bond: that’s the Adam Hall novels about his secret agent Quiller in a nutshell.
Adam Hall (the pen name of Elleston Trevor) never gives the reader more than just the one-word name for his hero, Quiller, who, like James Bond, works for the British as a spy, dishing out violence and death in the cause of defending democracy and Britain.
Quiller is a loner and The 9th Directive has a fast-paced plot as he tries to stop the assassination of a British dignitary visiting Bangkok. Hall’s prose often goes for the flowery collection of descriptive clauses and the meticulous recitation of technical details, such as an extended description of exactly how long it takes someone to throw a grenade and kill you. Lengthy explanations of (plausible sounding) tradecraft abound in the novel.
In places the book shows it’s mid-1960s age, especially in the comments about Asian people and (to a lesser extent) women, but also in the future predicted for the laser, presented in the book as a future super-weapon that would revolutionise a country’s military abilities. Lasers have turned out to be far more widespread and less threatening than that.
The audio version comes with a brilliant narration by Antony Ferguson and in print or audio version it’s still a cracking plot.
If you like this, you might also be interested in The Defection of AJ Lewinter.
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