February 28th, 2011

tardis

February Books 22) Birthright, by Nigel Robinson

Seventh Doctor adventure (from Virgin New Adventures series) about alien insects invading London in 1909 - a Doctor-lite story mainly about Benny, featuring also Ace and Victoria Waterfield's elderly aunt Margaret.

I realised a few pages into this that I had already heard an audio version - one of the first Bernice Summerfield plays from Big Finish, which had had some surgery to remove the Doctor (who isn't in it much anyway) and Ace (who I think is mainly replaced in the play by Benny's husband Jason), and co-starred Colin Baker as the mysterious Russian character. I remember enjoying the play; I also enjoyed the book more than I expected.

My expectations were low because the author is Nigel Robinson, whose prose style I find in general pretty clunky. But in fact he is way ahead of his usual output here. There were two chapters which did make me groan but also one (Benny's weird dream) which really made me sit up. I also thought he caught both Benny and Ace very well, as well as having a comprehensible plot. So, for once, a Robinson book which I rate as slightly above average.
doyle

February Books 23) The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle

There are eleven stories in the second of the Sherlock Holmes connections, where we see Doyle expanding the fictional universe: we have a couple of accounts of Holmes' adventures before he met Watson, we have Mycroft and the relationship with the French painter Vernet, we have the recovery of a treaty lost by the Foreign Secretary's nephew, and most of all we have Moriarty. The best of these is the first, "Silver Blaze", which is the one about the missing race-horse with the original curious incident of the dog in the night-time. Several of the others, unfortunately, have almost the same solution as "Silver Blaze"."The Final Problem" is a good bit of writing, as Holmes and Watson pursue each other to (apparently) mutual destruction in Switzerland, but has no real mystery element. There is also the peculiar story of the bloke whose wife turns out to have a black daughter by her previous marriage; some peculiar racist psychology going on there. Anyway, I don't think Holmes will stay dead, as I am only on page 480 out of 1122.