Los Angeles, 1947: The Second Doctor witnesses the murder
of an old friend, a film producer called Harold Reitman. A
young racketeer becomes the prime suspect for the killing,
but the Doctor has his doubts. Could Reitman's death somehow
be connected with a strangely affecting new movie entitled
Dying in the Sun...?
BBC has recently released Doctor Who: The Movie (on
DVD), and ironically this novel might easily have been called
Doctor Who: The Movies, set as it is during the heydays
book opens with a film noir style prologue, which comes complete
with bleak weather and a mysterious man in black, and it ends
like an adventure serial, with a frantic chase to catch a
villain's plane. During the middle bits, Miller examines the
glamour of fame and the cult of celebrity, as a mysterious
fluid somehow enables nobodies and has-beens alike to be adored
as stars. He also touches upon the social effects of movies,
with Dying in the Sun literally inspiring its viewers
to take violent action as the result of subliminal messages
being transmitted through alien material embedded in the celluloid.
On a more earthly (and earthy) note, Polly shows an independence
of spirit (more than she tended to do on the TV show) by valiantly
resisting the call of the casting couch.
author throws us straight into the story by establishing that
the Doctor, Ben and Polly have already been in Hollywood for
several days. After a good start, however, the novel is only
story relies upon several complicated connections between
characters and organisations. Among the various plot threads
that Miller weaves are the mystery of Reitman's murder, the
sinister intentions of a secret society, the nature of the
alien beings and their influence upon the movie. It doesn't
help matters that, instead of the usual device whereby each
companion investigates one or two individual plot strands,
the Doctor divides his attention between all of them. Ben
and Polly merely follow him obediently throughout most of
the book, although Polly does become detached from the group
towards the end of the tale. As a result, the Doctor seems
to go off-task whenever he puts one line of investigation
on to a back burner in order to examine another angle, and
the story frequently loses the reader's interest in the process.
This is a pity, because many of Miller's ideas are interesting
in and of themselves.
it is, I doubt that this particular work will be winning many
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