In 1920s London the Doctor and Rose find themselves caught
up in the hunt for a mysterious murderer. Secrets lie behind
locked doors and inhuman killers roam the streets. Not everyone
or everything is what they seem. Can anyone be trusted to
tell or even to know the truth...?
of an initial batch of three novels featuring the Ninth Doctor
and Rose, this book is very clearly distinguished from the
usual run of Doctor Who novels. For a start it is hardback
and consequently a pound dearer. It also runs 30 pages shorter
than the regular paperbacks. The type within is larger, so
in fact the story feels like it is only about two-thirds of
the usual duration.
the family audience of the new television series in mind,
this range is evidently pitched at a younger readership. This
book isn't just for kids, but there are none of the overt
sexual references or instances of strong language that you
occasionally get in the more adult paperbacks. The author
also throws in a child character, a tragic boy called Freddie
who gets involved in the very thick of the action.
new range also reflects other aspects of the television series'
ethos. Each book begins with a "pre-chapters" sequence, akin
to the show's standard pre-titles sequence. All the stories
take place on or around Earth, or at the very least deal closely
with human characters. No knowledge of the old programme or
of any of the other novels is required. This book's theme
of all things clockwork has nothing to do with the clock-faced
people from the Eighth Doctor novel Anachrophobia.
In line with the new show there's a passing reference to the
Doctor's experiences in the Time War and there's even a "bad
strongly held belief of the show's writer and executive producer
Russell T Davies is that no piece of merchandise (unlike certain
recent Matrix tie-in products) should ever be perceived
or promoted as being essential to the understanding of the
series it is based upon. Unfortunately, Justin Richards seems
to have taken the "not essential reading" edict a bit too
far, because The Clockwise Man just isn't as inspiring
as his usual work. My excitement at the very fact that I was
reading a Ninth Doctor book kept me going most of the way,
but my attention flagged during the second half of the book.
Fortunately, things pick up during the last 50 pages or so,
which deal with exciting events in and around the bell tower
of Big Ben - scenes in which John Buchan's Richard Hannay
would not have seemed out of place.
Doctor and Rose are well characterised throughout the book,
though the Doctor's defensive comment about having changed
his shirt before stepping out into the past is too similar
to his comment about having changed his jumper in The Unquiet
will tell (no pun intended) as to how well this new range
of books will fare.
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