This is certainly one of the more intriguing Doctor Who novels. Referenced mainly by association with UNIT, the Doctor is, for the most part, only a minor character in this novel. Much like the Doctor-light television serials `Love and Monsters' and `'Turn Left' this is a story where we see more of the effects of the Doctor's actions than of the Doctor himself. Instead the novel is written in the first person from the perspective of the character James Stevens, who, although entirely fictional, is named as the author on the cover of this work.
The novel follows Stevens' role as a journalist as he attempts to uncover conspiracies he believes surround UNIT. As the events of the bulk of this book take place during the early half of Pertwee's tenure as the Doctor, current events in this novel are generally concerned with the television stories from the early seventies. But there is much reference to the activities of other Doctors who have dabbled in current affairs during the fifties and sixties. Thus the First, Second and Seventh Doctors receive some attention. There is also much reference to C19 that has appeared only in a couple of other novels, most notably `The Scales of Injustice'. All this means that there is quite a bit of referencing to things some readers might find unfamiliar. Even so, this novel rarely becomes too fan indulgent, achieving a good balance in its allusions.
The novel is a mixture of Stevens' investigations into UNIT, copies of his reports and news articles, accounts concerning the assassination of JFK and copies of various UNIT letters. This structure is carefully grafted into the narrative so that is not distracting or disjointed. The tie in to JFK and how this affects the course of Stevens' life is woven successfully into the plot. As such this approach is an intriguing and varied read.
Stevens is, at first, a cocky and self-centred individual who fails to be endearing. As the novel progresses the reader will soon emphasise with this character despite his weaknesses and errors. As the mentor to one of the Doctor's companions and the lover to another it is quite important that the reader grows to like and respect this character.
Several companions, enemies and UNIT members are featured but the only televised character with a large role is really that of Dodo. Arguably Dodo's story in this novel will be controversial to some and conflict with various other DW media. Even so she is given a much more fleshed out character in this novel than she ever seemed to get in the programme.
Careful, clever writing and a well thought out and developed concept make this book one of the more original of DW novels. If you want a very typical Doctor Who plot (whatever that might be) this probably isn't for you. But if you are looking for a view of the Doctor's activities from a somewhat different viewpoint that echoes the real world then you should give this a go.