Conundrum (New Doctor Who Adventures) Paperback – 20 Jan 1994
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A killer is stalking the streets of the village of Arandale. The victims are found one each day, drained of blood. And if that seems strange, it's nothing compared to the town's inhabitants. The Doctor, Ace and Bernice think they're investigating a murder mystery.
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Ace and Benny find themselves hunting a murderer amongst a host of strangely one-dimensional characters and nearly get themselves killed in the process. This novel actually reads better as an old-fashioned whodunit of the Miss Marple / Midsomer Murders variety and despite Lyons' best efforts it fails to take the reader anywhere new.
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What starts off as a relatively typical murder/mystery/vampire story (they're more common than you think), thankfully, becomes a much more bizarre tale. "Thankfully", because a) the original story isn't all the great to begin with and b) the tale that follows makes the beginning portions of the book much more interesting and (more importantly) funny in retrospect. The humor is very clever and is never anything less than charming. It makes the entire story engaging and engrossing. In many places the plot is secondary to the fun, but since it is undoubtedly effective, there's no problem with that.
There's something about Steve Lyon's prose that I find really appealing. It's not especially poetic, but there is a certain flair to the writing. It has the quality that makes it appear to have been effortless to write; whether this is true, I don't have any way of knowing, but it's certainly effortless to read. The characters are all deliberately a bit vague and stereotypical, but this is obviously done on purpose and Lyons plays a lot with the audience expectations.
One of the more enjoyable NAs in the series, CONUNDRUM has held up very well since its publication. A handful of later books would attempt a similar breaking down of the fourth wall, but none of them would be as entertaining. A great book, and one that kept me guessing all the way through.
I liked the first three quarters or so of the book, but once the Doctor left the town to confront the Writer, I felt that things started to go downhill. The huge chip that continues to grow on Ace's shoulder has become quite annoying as well. That said, I liked the way the plot was set up, I just felt it finished weakly.
Exactly as described