Monday, July 13, 2015

Tom Quest #1 Sign of the Spiral and #2 The Telltale Scar

In Tom Quest #1, Sign of the Spiral, Tom Quest learns that a recent photograph of John Hanford has surfaced.  John Hanford disappeared along with Tom's father, Hamilton Quest, ten years ago while on an expedition in the jungles of Peru.  Tom's mother died of illness, and soon after, Tom's father and John Hanford were captured by natives.  The men have been presumed dead all these years.  Hamilton Quest's friend, Gulliver, brought Tom back to the United States and looked after Tom, making sure he went to school.

Now, ten years later,  Gulliver sends Tom a letter that includes a recent photograph of a native wearing a brooch that was fashioned in the shape of Hamilton Quest's Archimedes spiral.  The only way the native could have the brooch is if he came into contact with Hamilton Quest.  Soon, Gulliver and Tom learn that John Hanford has reappeared, so they travel to Horsehead, Texas, where Hanford is said to be staying with his stepdaughter, Barbara.

Gulliver is a great character, and he is the centerpiece of the series.  Gulliver has many strange habits.  For instance, Gulliver removed the windshield from his jeep because he finds it easier to step out of the front of his jeep and across the hood.  Gulliver also believes in driving in a straight line to his destination, through fields.

This book is suspenseful from the very beginning. Striker tells a good story, getting the reader intrigued from the beginning.

On page eight, "Tom acted impulsively.  Leaping from the seat, he used a trick learned from his Math instructor who had been a Commando."  That made me laugh.  Imagine a teacher showing the students some good Commando moves after a daily lesson.  

On page 74, Whiz "used his thumbnail to snap an old-fashioned wooden match into flame."  As opposed to what?  Don't we still use wooden matches even now, nearly 70 years after this book was published?  I did a minor amount of research into matches, and I assume that the "old-fashioned" wooden matches had a head made of different materials that were no longer in common use in 1947.

In Tom Quest #2, The Telltale Scar, Tom, Gulliver, and Whiz travel to Peru in search of Hamilton Quest.  A plane has been chartered to Ecuador, and preparations begin for the trip.  Alonzo Perry warns the group that someone is trying to kill Tom, and at about the same time, a bomb is delivered to their room.  The group learns that Perry is from Ecuador, so it is agreed that he can fly to South America with them.  Gulliver seems suspicious of Perry, but Tom is certain that Perry can be trusted.

In Ecuador, the group prepares to trek into the jungle towards Peru, where Hamilton Quest disappeared.  Gulliver is infuriated that Perry continues to linger in the vicinity, but finally, Perry vanishes.  Natives are hired for the journey, and all is going well.

I like that Gulliver is not easily taken in by smooth-talking villains.  Gulliver is easily the most important character and the real star of the series.

I greatly enjoyed both books.

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