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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 19 March 2015
This is an original Doctor Who novel, which was first published in 2002. In 2015, eight original Doctor Who novels have been released as the ‘History Collection’, a series of novels featuring different Doctors and their companions in historical storylines.

This story features the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee, with his companion Sarah Jane Smith, an independent young woman journalist of the 1970s. The title of the book is inspired by the medieval morality tales, where the characters in the tales represented virtues and vices and played out those roles for the audience in their narrative. In this tale, the author has offered a number of characters who offer an alternative, more amoral, viewpoint. Some are characters who normally operate outside the law as any state would recognise it, but have their own code of ethics and responsibility. Others are those who operate within and for the law, but who face terrible decisions and tests of their own ethical standpoints.

The story starts with a Prologue set in 1946. The reason for this Prologue becomes very clear later in the story. The narrative then moves to London in 1952, and the chapters take place over the course of just six days, from Wednesday, December 3 to Monday, December 8. Sarah Jane Smith and the Doctor have come to 1952 after Sarah, researching an article, finds a photograph showing the Doctor. The Doctor sees something in the photo which makes him determined to follow through on the ‘historical’ photo immediately. The evidence seems to point to a focus on a local gangster who has just been released from prison, Tommy Ramsey.

The first part of the novel reads very much like a London gangster story. Hard men, who have lived lives of crime, or who have come back from the War to find nothing is as they had left it, living by their own rules under the protection of their boss. The gangs struggle for territory, and local businesses are forced to offer ‘protection’ money. But then the focus of the story shifts, as something far more dangerous than gangs makes its presence felt in the city. The Doctor and Sarah must face terrible danger and violence, but even then they do not know if they can survive this threat.

This is most definitely not a Doctor Who story that is suitable for young readers; there is violence, and some of it is graphic, and there are references to adult themes. But for a mature audience, the story is a real winner. I found the whole mix of historical and ‘other’ (which comes into play part way through the story) to be very effectively and convincingly woven together. The author has presented a wonderful story, and a really fantastic Doctor Who story. The Doctor and Sarah Jane are characterised perfectly, the setting of the story feels ‘real’, and the supporting characters, both the good guys and the bad, are all wonderfully written. Great stuff.
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on 13 August 2008
The standard of writing in Doctor Who novels doesn't seem to be a priority with the publishers, but Amorality Tale is certainly one of the better attempts.

It has an interesting historical setting of the East End of London in the early fifties. However, since it is based on a historical event in which thousands of people really did die, I found this tasteless.

Bishop creates a likeable anti-hero in Tommy Ramsey and the chemistry between him and his mysterious new assistant Sarah Jane Smith is excellent until Bishop ruins it later in the book. But while I care about Tommy and Sarah, the Doctor is very underused and has little interaction with characters, so by the time he starts getting involved, I don't care and there's no chemistry between the Doctor and Sarah. Big errors in a Doctor Who novel.

As for the other characters, there are too many names to remember, and they all wash into one amorphous mess, while most characters are only set up to make the death count more emotional. Far too many people die in this.

I don't enjoy the ending, feeling it cops out. It doesn't follow through on the plot and isn't very clever. Also, it deals with `historical fact', which is always confusing in time travel stories, especially Doctor Who.

The book is enjoyable, but there are several problems, which when added to a feeble ending, mean I won't be reading this again.
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on 26 April 2002
What an excellent book! - i'm no literary critic, but i know what i like - David Bishop, in my opinion has managed to write a story that just jumps out of the page at you - ironically i bought this book as i just wanted something to read during a long day off and it was the only one in the store i hadn't read - talk about serendipity!! i could clearly picture how the BBC would've filmed this story and how i would've smiled at some of the special effects (if you've read this you'll guess what i'm talking about)- the characters of the doctor and sarah were incredibly clear and the whole thing captured the spirit of their season together and slots nicely between THE MONSTER OF PELADON and PLANET OF THE SPIDERS - thereby extending the relationship between sarah-jane and HER doctor which, again in my opinion, was one of the more interesting pairings in the show's history - anyway, to sum up (after far too much waffle - sorry!)you must read this book, it's rivetting from beginning to end and brings the child-like excitement that was doctor who very much into an adult world without losing any of the magic!
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on 27 April 2009
The Third Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith star in this fifties gangland tale that is a pretty good fit for a 1970s Earth-based Doctor Who TV story. David Bishop at least knows his Doctor and how to write for him; the characterisation is first-rate and the story whizzes along. Despite some depressing aspects concerning death and destruction that are slightly over-egged, this remains a decent and accessible story.
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on 26 May 2003
When Sarah Jane presented the Doctor with a picture of himself shaking hands with a noted gangland leader of the nineteen fifties, she's surprised to find him less than interested. He's even less interested in the number of people who had died in the smogs hat year. But a strangeness in the Church behind the men had him rushing to the Tardis. With the Doctor taking up a shop as a Watchmender and Sarah Jane taking up a position in a less than salubrious shop, the pair soon find themselves involved in the gangland culture. As the situation deteriorates, the Doctor and Ramsey have their own solutions but they have to come to an agreement as the full nature of the problem becomes apparent. But how will the authorities explain so many deaths?
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on 3 October 2015
Quick and perfect!
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