Cover image for Quiller balalaika
Quiller balalaika
Hall, Adam.
Personal Author:
First Carroll and Graff edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graff, 2003.

Physical Description:
242 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"An Otto Penzler book"--T.p.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



It's Quiller's most dangerous mission yet, and is also his last for the British intelligence agency so secret that it has no name. No matter that its orders originate at the Prime Minister level; if detected, it would be denied at that and every other level of the government. Quiller's orders this time take the pseudonymous operative to post-Cold War Russia to infiltrate the powerful and omnipresent mafiya that controls every sector and ruble of the country's fragile economy. More ruthless than the Sicilian brotherhood and as conscienceless as the Colombian drug cartels, the mafiya owns top politicians, judges, generals, bankers, and the police. Those it doesn't own it can buy, and those it doesn't choose to buy, it eliminates. Chief among the lawless mafiya lords stands a criminally brilliant British national, whom the agency wants taken out of play. Quiller learns that the one man who can help him achieve his goal is impounded in Gulank, the most infamous of all the gulags. Quiller must sneak his way into Gulank, and from a gulag that no prisoner has ever escaped, rescue the only person who can save his last, internationally vital mission.

Author Notes

Author Trevor Dudley-Smith was born in Kent, England on February 17, 1920. He attended Yardley Court Preparatory School and Sevenoaks School. During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force as a flight engineer. After the war, he started writing full-time. He lived in Spain and France before moving to the United States and settling in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1946 he used the pseudonym Elleston Trevor for a non-mystery book, and later made it his legal name. He also wrote under the pseudonyms of Adam Hall, Simon Rattray, Mansell Black, Trevor Burgess, Roger Fitzalan, Howard North, Warwick Scott, Caesar Smith, and Lesley Stone.

Even though he wrote thrillers, mysteries, plays, juvenile novels, and short stories, his best-known works are The Flight of the Phoenix written as Elleston Trevor and the series about British secret agent Quiller written as Adam Hall. In 1965, he received the Edgar Allan Poe Award by Mystery Writers of America and the French Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for The Quiller Memorandum. This book was made into a 1967 movie starring George Segal and Alec Guinness. He died of cancer on July 21, 1995.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The detritus of the cold war in the former Soviet Union comprises self-serving bureaucracies, opportunistic ex-KGBers, and organized criminals who make their U.S. mafioso counterparts seem like mischievous delinquents. Into the mix drops pseudonymous Brit agent Quiller, with the intent of taking out a British national--Basil Seckes, aka Vasyl Sakkas--who is secretly heading up the burgeoning Russian criminal empire. To bring down Sakkas' empire, Quiller needs the help of one Marius Antonov, currently residing in a Gulag prison. Freeing Antonov entails Quiller making his way into the prison and then escaping with his target, no small feat because the prison is virtually escape proof. Author Hall, whose real name was Elleston Trevor, died in 1995. This is the first U.S. publication of the last Quiller novel, which appeared elsewhere in 1996. The book is a typically atmospheric, exciting Quiller adventure. The author's son and daughter provide moving codas describing their father's courageous battle with cancer and his determination to finish one last novel for his many fans. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

First published in the U.K. in 1995, shortly after the pseudonymous Hall's death from cancer, the 19th book about the British secret agent known only as Quiller, set in Boris Yeltsin's Russia, contains the same reliably exciting mixture of the exotic, the erotic and especially the dangerous as its best-selling predecessors. Hall was a smooth and accomplished craftsman who could set up an action scene with a few deft strokes and then pay it off without a wasted word. Authors of some of today's bloated thrillers could learn a lot from this book's opening pages, as an extremely reluctant Quiller finds himself being coerced into taking on a British-born criminal, Basil Seckes (aka Vasyl Sakkas), who has risen to head up the Russian mafia. Slipping into a notorious Siberian labor camp to rescue the one person with the key to a mission code-named Balalaika provides Quiller's ultimate challenge. Wonderful touches abound, from fighting techniques and the internal politics of Quiller's ultrasecret outfit to the way a small mistake (using a literal Russian translation of an American phrase, "Don't miss this great opportunity") puts Quiller in great peril. Eight years doesn't seem like such a long time, but this last Quiller outing sadly reminds us of how far we've come from a golden age of adventure fiction. (Dec. 4) FYI: Edgar-winner Hall (whose real name was Elleston Trevor) turned out dozens of other genre titles under a range of pseudonyms, including Mansell Black, Trevor Burgress and Trevor Dudley-Smith. Why it took eight years for this book to be published in the U.S. is a real mystery. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved