Nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR) is a radiofrequency technique that can be used to detect the presence of quadrupolar nuclei, such as the N nucleus prevalent in many explosives and narcotics. In a typical application, one observes trains of decaying NQR echoes, in which the decay is governed by the spin echo decay time(s) of the resonant line(s). In most detection algorithms, these echoes are simply summed to produce a single echo with a higher signal-to-noise ratio, ignoring the decaying echo structure of the signal. In this paper, after reviewing current NQR signal models, we propose a novel NQR data model of the full echo train and detail why and how these echo trains are produced. Furthermore, we refine two recently proposed approximative maximum-likelihood detectors that enable the algorithms to optimally exploit the proposed echo train model. Extensive numerical evaluations based on both simulated and measured NQR data indicate that the proposed detectors offer a significant improvement as compared to current state-of-the-art detectors.