The thing is, this book is one elaborate extended metaphor. The authors grew up around the Harrogate area and - lo and behold - Mars is turned into a planet-sized OAP centre paid for by holding party conferences, university junkets and the like. Everyone wears beige. By recycling Parkin's MA thesis on the University Novel (you know, Lodge, Davies, Bradbury) and spoofing the 90s Mars blockbusters they were going to have to be pretty sure-footed. For the first two-thirds of the book they get away with it, then it turns into BUGS. This means that they get twice as far into a 280-page Benny book than any of their predecessors in the range before dropping the ball. The main problem is their motivation is frustration at other writers' cliches, especially the kneejerk assumption in most of the New Adventures that multinational corporations are automatically bad and that war criminals do bad things because, well, because they're evil. A worthy ambition, but they get as far as Benny's rather abrupt realisation that the nice old dear she's befriended is the most hated person in the planet's history (and no-one else spotted her?) before the dumb 'Mission Impossible' sub-plot goes into overdrive. The main reason this book is to be given a chance is quite simply because it should have been the last time anyone used Jason Kane as the initiator of the plot. This dull character has finally been exposed as a bit of a tosser and the perennial question of why Our Heroine bothers with him has been settled: he's loaded. Apart from that it suffers from the familiar N/A faults of being written in a hurry and no effort on the part of writer(s) or Virgin to take the plot and give it a good kicking into shape. Still, not nearly as self-indulgently shoddy as Kate Orman's effort.