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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead of Winter is one of the best Doctor Who books that I've ever come across, 13 July 2011
This review is from: Doctor Who: Dead of Winter (Hardcover)
One of the first signs that something different is happening here is that a great many of the novel's chapters are written in the first person, which provides an excellent insight into the minds of our favourite characters from an unusual perspective (with perplexing memory loss as an added ingredient for the TARDIS crew, a device that elegantly reduces the risk of any spoilers to zero). Dead of Winter is set in 18th century Italy, so it's quite appropriate that much of the novel is written in the form of letters, as the epistolary novel was very much in vogue at this time. James Goss also makes full use of the fact that this is a novel to play a few tricks on us regarding the identity of various characters, which works very well in prose, but couldn't happen on TV.

Once again, there's an adrift alien at the heart of the mystery, which is a trope that Steven Moffat's Doctor Who seems to like revisiting. Dead of Winter`s also very much in keeping with the current run of Doctor Who novels with regards to its casual references to British popular culture, and for a having a child at the core of the story. There's also a lovely nod to the TV series, as Dr. Smith tells Maria (the aforementioned child, who's been abandoned by her mother) his secret name... Which all leads to a rather lovely and ingenious twist in the plot. James Goss also has some rather nice references to Amy Pond's menage a trois with Rory and the Doctor in the TV series. Also, very much in keeping with my view of the current series, Rory expresses some misgivings about the Doctor's methods, as he investigates just how Dr. Bloom is curing patients with TB over a century ahead of time... In an addition to this, there's quite a few doppelgangers hanging around, which adds to the drama and the mystery, although (fortunately enough) they're not of the `ganger' variety. There's another echo with the current series with regards to a deadly incident that very much affects the Doctor... And, I don't know, with all the fog, the duplicates, and the sea, James Goss may also be harking back to the Horror of Fang Rock from the classic series of Doctor Who. James Goss certainly knows his stuff, as he should do, since he's run the BBC's Doctor Who website. However, there's not a hint of nepotism in Albert DePetrillo's commissioning of this book, since James Goss is a damn fine writer whose novel has been published on its own sublime literary merits. Indeed, James Goss' Dead Air achieved the mighty accolade of Audiobook of the Year of the year in 2010, which is a very mighty achievement for a Doctor Who book. In addition to this, James Goss writes a blog called The Agatha Christie Reader, and his love of her work also finds its way into Dead of Winter via some subtle asides. What complicates things even further is the disappearance of the TARDIS, which turns out to be due to a little used facility of the Doctor's time vessel... And there's the rather neat revelation that the Doctor doesn't actually speak English! Who are the mysterious ghostly figures that rise up from the sea and dance with the patients on the shore? And why does Prince Boris' manservant have a habit of floating inches from the ground? You'll find out all this and more in the rather excellent Dead of Winter, which is far more fantastically lively and thrilling than its title would suggest.
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Location: Punked Books, London, UK

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