Between 4,000 and 12,000 Londoners died within four days
during the killer smog of December 1952. Sarah Jane Smith
persuades the Third Doctor to take her back in time to discover
exactly what happened. The travellers are soon caught up in
the dangerous world of East End gangsters. But a far deadlier
threat is waiting to make its move...
Third Doctor/Sarah team have been rather under-represented
in the realm of original Who novels. So far they have
only appeared as guests in three of Lawrence Miles' Eighth
Doctor novels. True, they also starred in the Virgin Books
Missing Adventure, The Ghosts of N-Space, but this
was of course an adaptation of the second of Barry Letts'
two scripts for BBC radio during the 1990s.
a matter of fact, the character of gangland boss Tommy Ramsey
would not have seemed out of place in one of Letts' radio
plays. He is established as an exaggerated and stereotypical
bully who, just like the infamous Krays, is fiercely loyal
to his dear old mum. As the plot develops, however, so does
Ramsey, and he gradually reveals a more vulnerable side of
his personality to Sarah. Like Tony Soprano's psychiatrist,
Sarah Jane puts the gangster in touch with his feelings.
author sets up a comparison between the earthbound mob and
an extra-terrestrial foe known as the Xhinn. What the smaller-
and larger-scale dominions have in common are their euphemistic
job descriptions: the mob offers "protection", while the Xhinn
describe themselves as "missionaries". When the police force
is effectively put out of action, it falls to the mob to live
up to their job description.
fail to see how the title of this book is particularly relevant
to its plot, even though the Third Doctor does plenty of his
trademark moralising. In fact, his soul-searching with regard
to the extreme measures that he is forced to take against
the Xhinn seems a little excessive. The Doctor has taken such
extreme measures against alien aggressors before, and will
do so again in stories that take place after this one. Perhaps
it's just a sign of this incarnation's world-weariness, which
Bishop plays upon as a prelude to the Doctor's imminent regeneration
in Planet of the Spiders.
undemanding but very enjoyable tale.
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