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on 28 November 2005
When I first approached this book I struggled to see its place in the canon of Doctor Who works. It seemed to read as a hybrid of the TARGET novelisations and the Virgin New Adventures; not really sure which way it wanted to commit. As I read on however, the narrative took off and I was left with a more intelligent and intriguing story than the old TARGET adaptations of the classic series and something that wasn't trying to hard to reach a more 'adult' audience.
Sometimes the author has The Doctor trying too hard to match Chris Eccleston's screen persona; resulting in a breakdown of coherence in some of the narrative. There are also too many characters squeezed in at the start, however this group is fairly quickly diminished one way or another!
The hardback format is excellent - giving this range of books a more sophisticated and pleasing finish - the cover of 'The Clockwise Man' also scores highly, for the great look and accurate depictions of The Doctor and Rose (no squashed up faces and unrecognisable garments here!) The writer also makes much of The 9th Doctor's leather jacket and sonic screwdriver meaning the novel is definitely going to appeal to new fans as well as established 'Whovians'.
All-in-all the story is well-paced but a little overlong; it knows what it wants to be and is a definite improvement on the patchy 'Monsters Inside'. The Doctor is dead - Long live The Doctor!
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VINE VOICEon 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.
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on 16 June 2011
For a Doctor Who fan, and a novel fan, Doctor Who: The Novel should have been a five-star shoo in. Unfortunately it was a shoo-out-and-exterminate-yourself.

The Ninth Doctor wasn't much like Christopher Ecclestone's portrayal. Richards captured his detached confidence well, but no other aspect of his personality was apparent: his passion, his anger, his dry humour or his swagger. Admittedly, it's hard to recreate a character in print already well etched in the reader's mind, but had there never been a TV series, had the reader come to this book tabula rasa, then the `hero' would be read as a bland, aloof and essentially pointless character who was as much a Time Lord as he was a stick of celery. His most recognisable features are were the leather jacket and sonic screwdriver, both of which I could don without setting foot on Gallifrey.

Rose was better managed. Her feisty boisterousness shone through along with tinges of empathy and compassion making her a much more well-rounded character. She was so strong the story could have survived with her alone. The remaining cast, with a few exceptions, were a bland menagerie of boring stock characters and red shirt tokens.

The plot itself had the capacity to be a good one. There were various layers and in the hands of a better writer could have been enjoyable. However Richards - unfortunately the Creative Director for the BBC Books Doctor Who Series - created all the atmosphere of a tea party in a morgue. For a huge chunk of the book, nothing happened. Nothing. The Doctor faffed about playing chess and chatting, Rose wandered about feeling inquisitive and by the time the action kicked in, I was almost too fed up to care.

From the attack on the hotel through to the goldfish bowl prison, things were actually good. The action was pacey, the dialogue was snappy, the holder of the upper hand was constantly changing as loyalties were switched, examined and re-examined (even if the treatment of the cats was a bit violent before their secret was revealed). Then the dénouement came. And stayed. And continued some more. The whole Big Ben sequence left me wanting to climb those same stairs and throw myself from the top of London's most famous clock to end the misery. The climax lasted so unnecessarily long that I would have been quite happy if the Doctor was killed and London vaporised just to reach a conclusion.

The book wasn't without any merit. Freddie is a brilliant character, and there was a huge and important theme: the nature of humanity. This was explored with some skill that made its point without overegging it and there were beautifully poignant moments that actually present a challenge to `human beings' about humanity itself.

Nevertheless, the rating this novel is reflective of the sheer effort it took for me to keep picking it up. If I had a TARDIS of my own, I'd go back a few months and throw this book away before I had the chance to read it.
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on 5 February 2006
Well, the first of the Ninth Doctor novels and the first in a new series tailoring towards a younger reading audience.
The good news is that the Doctor and Rose come off extremely well on the printed page. The other characterisations are also adequate for their purpose in the story
The bad news is that despite being shorter than the usual length of the BBC Eight Doctor novels, this book dragged. I expected a simpliflication of story but didn't realise this could also mean lack of plot. Pages and pages go by where little of any real substance happens aside from the characters reiterating the content of the previous chapters A real disappointment as the first chapter was excellent.
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on 15 April 2013
In 1920s London the Doctor and Rose find themselves caught up in the hunt for a mysterious murderer. But not everyone or everything is what they seem. Secrets lie behind locked doors and inhuman killers roam the streets.

Who is the Painted Lady and why is she so interested in the Doctor? How can a cat return from the dead? Can anyone be trusted to tell or even to know the truth?

With the faceless killers closing in, the Doctor and Rose must solve the mystery of the Clockwise Man before London itself is destroyed...

Featuring the Doctor and Rose as played by Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper in the hit series from BBC Television
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on 19 September 2016
After watching the new series again from start to finish of the Twelth Doctor, I fancied trying the novelisations. I am so happy I have, the quality of writing, the action/adventure, the capture of characterisation, all hooked me in this novel.

Not quite the page turner I hoped for, but essentially an interesting mystery with plenty to capture the imagination. Having scenes in Big Ben certainly helped.
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on 3 September 2007
I found this an exciting book and it moves at a quick pace. Rose and the Doctor travel back to the early 20th Century and investigate some strange going-ons. There is a killer loose and a woman called The Painted Lady who is curious about the Doctor. The characters are well described and they are strange cats who return from the dead.
Justin Richards has written a wonderful who-dunnit story.
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on 6 March 2011
This the first book I have read featuring the Ninth Doctor, and my interest was grabbed within the first few pages. Towards the end of the book I had to stop myself reading in order to make the pleasure of the story last for longer. Great stuff!
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on 30 August 2013
I really liked this book. it was a really good read for children . . . . . . . . . it was also kinda creepy and cool a excellent 9th doctor one
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on 26 May 2013
This is an amazing book could not have asked for anything better. Nearly read it such and addictive book. Good reading very easy to read xxx
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