Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Doctor Who Novellas: Foreign Devils

Andrew Cartmel
Telos Publishing

China, 1800, and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoë arrive at the English Trade Concession in Canton.
A supposedly harmless relic known as the Spirit Gate becomes active and whisks Jamie and Zoë into the future. The Doctor follows in the TARDIS and arrives in England, 1900, where the descendents of an English merchant from 1800 are gathering.
Among their number is a young man called Carnacki, an expert in all things mystical, and before long he is helping the Doctor investigate a series of bizarre murders in the house.
The spirits of the past have returned, and when the Doctor discovers that the house and surrounds have literally been taken out of space and time, he realises that their attacker may not be all they seem.

This was the book that caught my eye and alerted me to the existence of the Telos books and it pleases me to be able to report it was a real corker of a read.

Cartmel was the script editor that was trying to revitalise the TV series just as it was being cancelled. Here he takes a break from the Seventh Doctor and tries his hand at the Second.

The Doctor, Zoe and Jamie find themselves in 1800 in China where an opium smuggler named Roderick Upcott has just found himself cursed by the court astrologer and discovered he was warming his bum on a box containing the slowly roasting remains of one of his customers.

Via a spirit gate Zoe & Jamie find themselves catapulted to 1900 England with the Doctor following in his usual manner. There, at a party held by Upcott’s well-healed descendant, they find murder, intrigue and a kindred spirit in the form of Thomas Carnacki the ghost hunter created by William Hope Hodgson.

The Doctor and Carnacki with Zoe in tow (Jamie sits this one out unconscious in the greenhouse) investigate each murder in turn, finding one to be not so supernatural in origin, before the curse reveals itself in both the possession of Carnacki’s girlfriend and the resurrected corpse of Roderick Upcott.

It really was a cracking romp with a decidedly dirty mind – one of the Upcott’s liking to shag the maids with the butler watching from behind an two-way mirror.

In addition, there was a back-up story from the original Carnacki stories called ‘The Whistling Room’ which was odd and a bit creepy in a slightly dated and stilted way but a good way to end a cracking read.

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