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Customer Review

on 16 March 2011
Like the author's later BBC novel, Beautiful Chaos, this book stumbles through a series of disconnected events and then ends abruptly.

Deadfall was written as Doctor Who fanfic, then translated into a Doctor-less audio drama before being rewritten again into this book. You can clearly see the influence classic Who had on Russell's work - the separate locations with distinct casts and subplots, barely connected to one another until they collide and waddle on together, is clearly informed by the multi-part serial nature of the TV show: the location shoot is a colour-shifted quarry; characters obviously hang around because they're contracted to appear in all four episodes; the scene structure is arranged to make an easy shooting schedule (by having people appear in scenes with the same people more often than not). The only concession to the budgetless terrain of the written word is the vast underground city, and even that inexplicably makes use of real-world locations and repeated backdrops. Additionally a lot of the writing is somewhat confused. Luckily the characters interminably recap what happened "last episode" so you can keep up, but these recaps disagree with the actual events so frequently that you can tell Russell strayed quite far from his original notes. Or maybe this is the effect of adaptation decay - one scene gets mutated to fit the new characters, but later dialogue referring back is left in. Basically it's a sprawling, amateurish disappointment of a novel.

Gosh, it really sounds like I didn't like the thing, but I must confess to a certain fondness for the book. This may be largely due to the presence of Chris Cwej, a long-time favourite character. I'm self-aware enough to note my predispositions.
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