BOOK REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO: SILHOUETTE / AUTHOR: JUSTIN RICHARDS / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Of the three new Doctor Who novels, the new volume from Who stalwart Justin Richards looks set to be the most divisive. This is chiefly because it features the Paternoster gang, that motley trio of comedy weirdos (well, two weirdos and a lesbian who's married to a lizard woman) that Moffat seems to love so much. Long story short, if you like them, you'll like Silhouette. If, like our own Paul Mount, you see them as a symptom of everything that's wrong with today's Doctor Who then you're better off running in the other direction.
To all of you who've stuck around, you'll be pleased to know that Richards hasn't let us down, giving us a novel that's rich in period detail and written in a style that reminds us of Arthur Conan Doyle's mystery stories. It's also surprisingly graphic; we almost dropped our monocles when the words "blood continued to seep out from the sharp metal letter-opener that jutted from between Hapworth's shoulder blades" came up.
The one misgiving we have with the book is that the villain is such a vivid and well-realised character that it's a shame when he gets his comeuppance. That sounds positive, but we're almost certain we're supposed to dislike the guy. This is especially bad when there's a love story between two of the good guys that doesn't feel earned precisely because we don't really get to spend a lot of time with them. We never really see them as anything but extras.
In the end, such minor gripes do little to diminish an enjoyable outing that even manages to avert the 'writing for Pertwee' trap that usually happens at the beginning of a new series. The Doctor sounds like Capaldi's take on the character and Clara sounds like Clara. Sometimes that's more than the television series manages, and any spin-off book that outdoes aspects of its parent must surely be recommended.