Top positive review
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A decent start to the new range
on 18 May 2005
In the absence of the TV series both Virgins 7th Doctor and BBC Books 8th Doctor ranges did their best to take the continuing narrative of Doctor Who forward in an ongoing series, while the return of the TV series mean these new 9th Doctor novels have to slot in as standalone 'missing' adventures. The novels have also been simplified, and are now aimed at older children rather than adults, though thankfully The Clockwise Man has enough interesting material to still be readable for older Who fans.
The premise, concerning a disguised alien exiled on Earth being hunted down by his vengeful fellow aliens, isn't particularly original, but Richards fills the book with enough colourful characters and ideas - including infamous fictional Russian Revolution survivor Anastasia Romanov; mechanical clockwork men (including one machine who touchingly doesn't realize it isn't human); a masked killer; two men who each believe the other to be insane; a young would-be hero cursed with haemophilia; and the mysterious never-seen man who is locked away on the top floor of a London club - to keep things interesting. The novel as a whole is split into two distinct parts - the opening atmospheric build-up will be enjoyable for older readers who like a mystery, while younger readers looking for excitement may well be bored by the talky nature of the plot - while conversely the extended action-packed finale set atop Big Ben will be perfect for younger readers, while adults may find it starts to get a little shallow and tiresome after a few dozen pages of blow-by-blow action prose.
The Doctor and Rose both stay true to their TV characterisation, and pleasingly the Doctor seems a little more heroic here than the often peripheral character seen thus far in the new series. Perhaps due to aiming the book at children the book is almost constantly seen through the eyes of either the Doctor or Rose, and the downside means that some of the supporting characters (particularly the aliens) are a little shallow, but Richards prose is readable enough. By no means a classic of Doctor Who literature, The Clockwise Man is nevertheless an enjoyable romp, and should contain a good enough mixture of action and intrigue to please both young and old fans alike.