Tom Quest    

Tom Quest Adventure Series

"Pretty neat," commented Whiz Walton.  "Looks something like a question mark.  I've never seen anything like it."

"My father designed it," explained Tom.  "He had a jeweler make a pair of earrings and a brooch for Mother.  When Mother died, Dad gave one of her earrings to me and the other to his best friend."


"Yes.  A couple of years ago Gulliver and I had the earrings mounted on rings."

Whiz examined the ring more carefully.  " 'Quest' is a lot like 'question,' " he murmured.  "I suppose your dad took the pattern from his name."

"Dad wasn't thinking of a question mark when he made the design."


Tom shook his head.  "He was thinking of Archimedes, his favorite character in history."

                                                                                               —pages 20-21, The Sign of the Spiral

The Tom Quest series was written by Fran Striker, who is best known for creating the Lone Ranger.  The first six Tom Quest titles were published in hardcover with dust jacket by Grosset and Dunlap.  The last two titles were published in an inexpensive cello picture cover edition by Grosset and Dunlap's Clover imprint.  The first six titles were reprinted in the Clover edition.  The books with dust jackets have good quality paper while the Clover editions have pulp paper.
Titles in the Tom Quest Series:

 1. Sign of the Spiral, 1947
 2. The Telltale Scar, 1947
 3. The Clue of the Cypress Stump, 1948
 4. The Secret of the Lost Mesa, 1949
 5. The Hidden Stone Mystery, 1950
 6. The Secret of Thunder Mountain, 1952
 7. The Inca Luck Piece, 1955
 8. The Mystery of the Timber Giant, 1955

The series opens with seventeen-year-old Tom Quest on a search for his father, Hamilton Quest, who has been missing for ten years in Peru.  Tom is aided by his two adult friends, Gulliver and a newspaperman, Whiz Walton.  Even though the series is named after Tom Quest, Gulliver upstages all other characters.  Gulliver owns a ranch in Texas.  He drives a jeep which has had its top and windshield removed because they got in Gulliver's way.  Gulliver believes in driving the shortest distance between two points, so he drives across fields and streams.  Gulliver is a huge man with a colorful personality as intimidating as the size of his body.

From pages 4-5 of The Secret of the Lost Mesa:

"Gittin' stopped like this is gittin' purely monotonous.  When I'm delayed, I git as touchy as a teased snake.  An' when I'm touchy, I do things that make men wish they had never been born.  Now, speak yo' piece, an' be done with it.  I hanker to reach Oaxaca by sundown."

Gulliver was indeed an awe-inspiring sight.  His natural height was six feet six inches, but his blue denim trousers were tucked into high-heeled cowboy boots that made him appear considerably taller.  His torso was proportioned like a barrel, and his head seemed to rise from the massive shoulders with no neck in between.  His eyes glared angrily from beneath thick eyebrows that were joined above his broken nose to make a solid hedge at the base of a sloping forehead.  Gulliver had spent many years in cowboy country.  For amusement he had wrestled steers and matched his strength against the wildest horses.  His face bore the marks of many spills and injuries.  Now it was as grim as granite, and just as hard. He stood with his clenched fists resting on his hips.

Tom's other friend, Whiz Walton, is a newspaperman who is 35 years old.  Whiz is on a leave of absence from work.  Shortly into his vacation he chances to meet Tom and joins up with Gulliver and Tom on their search for Hamilton Quest.  Whiz is cynical at the beginning of the first book, but spending time with Gulliver and Tom quickly changes him.  Whiz and Gulliver often get annoyed with each other and verbally spar.  Their repartee adds a lot of interest to the text.

This well-written series is extraordinarily good and worthy of notice.  The text flows well, and the stories are quite engaging.


Cover Art Gallery

My Tom Quest Blog Posts

Tom Quest at Series Book Central

Back to Main Page