This review is from: Doctor Who: Matrix (Paperback)
Matrix is a 7th Doctor, Past Doctor adventure and the second in Mike Tucker and Robert Perry's self-styled series 27.
The story of Matrix is fairly complex, it fits in with the story type of series 26, in that there is a story there deep down, but it's confusing as anything and doesn't make a whole lot of sense at first glance. As this was meant to be set in the fictional series 27 it's a little disappointing as the first story, Illegal Alien, was just a joyous romp with a fairly straightforward plotline. The novel starts with the villain doing a ritual to make a golem and then attacking the Doctor with it when he is at his weakest before the TARDIS is hi-jacked. Meanwhile Ace seems to be falling under the influence of the Cheetah planet (from Survival) and the villain is shown to be committing a murder in Victorian times. The pieces are not obviously linked, and linking them seems a little bit convoluted and screams that the authors had so many ideas they just tried to shoe-horn as many into one novel as possible.
The novel then shifts to the Victorian era of the Ripper murders, with the TARDIS crew attempting to stop the 6th murder which should never have happened. I'm a sucker for a good old Victorian setting and Tucker/Perry have done themselves proud in capturing the era on the page. The bulk of the novel is set here and the people and the era really do come alive on the page. The trouble is all this good work is then undone by the final pages of the book which becomes all out Gallifreyan fanwink. I don't mind semi-historical novels and I don't mind novels delving into the fictional Time Lord history, but here they clash badly.
There is no denying that Tucker and Perry can write for the 7th Doctor, they do it very well indeed as Illegal Alien proved. Matrix however features a sombre 7th Doctor who spends the best part of the novel depressed, scared and/or not himself. Whilst it adds depth to the character, it's not really the sort of Doctor I like to read about and I felt the absence of a "Doctor" character was missed. Ace is done fairly well though, and is thrust into not very nice situations which are interesting and suit her well.
Matrix is a pretty gloomy and grim novel which makes the smoggy London of Victorian times the perfect setting. It has strong ideas and really pushes forward the backstory of the Matrix and also the idea of a dark Doctor but never quite reaches what it sets out to do by simply throwing far too many ideas at you all at once. It makes for a dark and atmospheric novel, thanks in part to the wonderful Victorian setting, but it's plot takes a lot to follow and asks you to believe some pretty outrageous and contrived plot devices which seriously detracts from what otherwise could have been a great novel.