This new series of original novels takes up where the TV series left off.
Theres a real confidence about this one and, with hindsight, the markings of the tropes which made Mortimore and Lane such impressive writers of solo works. Here, we see Mortimores ability to pack a real emotional punch within a genuinely epic story on (and I use the phrase advisedly) a biblical scale, combined with Lanes mastery of character, plot and structure.
Banks created a rich universe by building consistently on each carefully conceived novel, the New Adventures authors are trying to do the same using scraps picked out of 27 years of television. All of which sits even more oddly in the background of a story informed largely by fantasy: even as we piece together the disparate elements were given to make sense of this universe, were asked to accept Angels, a magical bridge with a magical lift, magical landscapes with mysterious powers and a 200 year old dead religion whose artefacts retain an undefined power. It starts off with the promising set-up of a murder mystery, the Doctor as Poirot and, at first, the individual bodies beginning to pile up. The cursory approach to storytelling extends to the regular characters, though perhaps we should be grateful that the forced soap opera of the-Doctor-in-an-unhappy-triangle-with-his-companions is denied too much time. I am a fan of Ace in the two series she got on television, but she has proved a tricky character to develop, with various versions in various media failing to convince, and this slightly older macho vote is particularly odd to come back to. We get the occasional glimmer of the brilliance she has previously displayed as a character, but for much of the story she is sidelined or bogged down with jealousy over the Doctors relationship with Ace. Whats to be jealous of, Benny? The New Adventures continues to offer a nightmare grotesque interpretation of McCoys Doctor, an eccentric who we now learn collects pins and can hover, a playful side to his consistently psychopathic behaviour. Anyway: the story resolves with Ace, Bernice and the Doctor happy again, all friends and stepping into the TARDIS for new adventures in time and space.
Ace's change of heart was an interesting story in itself, but I don't feel like it was addressed adequately. The Doctor is very flat in this book and when he finally does step in to save the day, you're left wondering what exactly he actually did anyway.
This includes the Doctor, characterised marvellously as a brilliant manipulator you cant help but find reassuring. Its a just plain satisfing story, too, mapping all that fantastic detail and characterisation to a solid murder mystery with planetary implications.
There are some seriously good plus points here: - the concious nod to using time-travel to visit certain specific places, and then finding out that your actions are indeed responsible for things that happen later; - the nods to hard SF like Rendezvous with Rama where the alien technology is properly alien and all the humans do is fail to understand it; - the loving continuity worked in (IMC, the Adjudicators etc.) which are properly explained for new readers without making it sound like tedious exposition.
Lane had already shown an extensive knowledge of the Holmes character and continuity in his Virgin Books novel All-Consuming Fire in which he created The Library of St. John the Beheaded as a meeting place for the worlds of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. The first book in the 'Young Sherlock Holmes' series Death Cloud was published in the United Kingdom in June 2010 (February 2011 in the United States), with the second Red Leech published in the United Kingdom in November of that year (with a United States publication date under the title Rebel Fire of February 2012). The third book Black Ice was published in June 2011 in the UK while the fourth book Fire Storm was published originally in hardback in October 2011 with a paperback publication in March 2012.