Humans gifted with ESP have been recruited by a secret society
known as the Magnate. But an even greater power, an extra-terrestrial
and inter-dimensional one, has also been recruiting. Meanwhile,
in the Peak District village of Halcham, a pair of Autons
called Ciara and Cellian are seeking to redeem themselves...
And in addition to the secret society, the aliens and their
various followers, the author has also thrown in the Sixth
Doctor, Melanie Bush, Trey Korte (Mel's telepathic American
friend from Russell's Business Unusual) and Evelyn
Smythe (the Sixth Doctor's companion in several Big Finish
productions). To say that Russell has over-egged the pudding
would be something of an understatement. To make matters more
complex, the events in this book are closely tied in with
those of Business Unusual, which was published four
long years ago, and Russell's Third Doctor Missing Adventure,
The Scales of Injustice, which last saw print in 1996.
That is a long time to wait before picking up the loose threads
that are Ciara, Cellian and Trey.
briefly rejoins the Doctor for this adventure having been
left behind on Earth some time ago. Establishing her previous
departure in this way is a bit of a shame for Big Finish listeners,
because now they know that Evelyn is always going to survive
whatever dangers she faces in her audio adventures. It also
seems as though the author has written her into his book simply
as a gimmick - this is her first appearance in a novel and
also her first meeting with Mel, and Evelyn's presence has
little real bearing on the plot. On the plus side, her scenes
with Mel make truly delightful reading as the two companions
compare and contrast their respective relationships with the
Doctor. The Time Lord has more in common with Evelyn than
with most of his other assistants, including Mel, although
this doesn't always make for a cosy partnership!
connections between the various other characters often seem
tenuous and difficult to grasp, with a great deal of intrigue
and obfuscation going on. The large number of "prologues"
doesn't help matters, either. Then suddenly, towards the end
of the novel, a confusingly large amount of information is
dumped on the reader. The conclusion is therefore muddled,
although the implied identity of the mysterious amnesiac Magnate
operative John Doe proves jolly amusing.
book has plenty of good moments, but as a whole it is rather
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