Despite his classic work in the 70's on Doctor Who, Barry Letts doesn't have good form for his more recent work, and continuity-wise Island of Death slots in after the much maligned radio dramas The Paradise of Death and the Ghosts of N-Space. The plot is very generic, with a corpse on Hampstead Heath leading the 3rd Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier off to combat a group of new age cultists who are summoning an invasion force of parasitic aliens. The novel grinds to a halt during an interminable 100-page sea journey as the regulars give chase to the cultists, and the supporting characters are either caricatures or distinguishable only by name. When events finally get to the island the alien Skang are reasonably interesting thanks to their `perception is reality' hypnotic powers, and Letts keeps enough moments of light humour with the regulars going (including the Doctor literally talking to fishes) that the novel is at least readable. By no means a good novel, Island of Death is at least an improvement on Letts segment of the Deadly Reunion novel written with Terrance Dicks.
Sadly disappointed with this adventure by Barry Letts. The whole thing moves very slowly. It seems Mr. Letts had a good idea that would have possibly made a good 2-4 episode televised broadcast, or a good short story. This book seems filled with padding to reach the 280th page! There are lots of boring bits and boring characters that slow the whole thing down and don't move the plot ahead at all. Sadly, the Third Doctor, Sarah, and the Brig are also very boring.
I have moved on to "The Stone Rose" and "The Deadstone Memorial" and each certainly deserves 5 stars!
If you want an exciting Doctor Who story about mysterious cults featuring the 3rd Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith at their best... Avoid. If you want an in-depth description of how a naval ship works, then you need this book! Barry Letts fills what could have been a wonderfully engaging story that captures everything one would expect from an adventure with the 3rd Doctor, with something much better - a long-winded lecture about how the navy run their ships, which side of the boat is which, what knots are in boating lingo and how to work out where west is based on the sun. Afterall, who needs action and adventure and inspiring words from a brilliant man known only as The Doctor when instead we can just read about boats!
As an avid boat not-care-abouter, I couldn't finish this book. Even the fact that Sarah Jane Smith was about to get killed by a media-hating sociopath couldn't keep me hooked because it was followed by yet another lecture about how a stupid boat works that's just completely irrelevant to the plot and must only have been written to fill out the pages a bit more to make it look less feeble.
So yeah. Doctor Who Fans - Don't bother reading it Navy Obsessed Lunatics - Perfect book for you
if youlike the third doctor and Sarah Jane you really must read this book. Possibly the best DR WHO book of 2005 so far. The author obviously knows the 3rd doctor inside out (as he should)and it shows throughout the book. Buy it and read it you wont be disapointed