06 August 2019

Review: Doctor Who: Shakedown by Terrance Dicks

Trade paperback, 285 pages
Published 2014 (originally 1995)
Acquired May 2019
Read June 2019
Doctor Who: Shakedown: The Monster Collection Edition
by Terrance Dicks

The seventh Doctor, Benny, Chris, and Roz encounter both the Sontarans and the Rutan in a cosmic plan of the Doctor's to make sure their war doesn't spill over into the rest of the galaxy. Like a lot of New Adventures, it follows a number of distinct threads: Chris and Roz chase a deranged serial killer on a noir planet, Benny investigates on a university planet, the crew of a space yacht has to contend with a Rutan stowaway and Sontaran boarding party, and the Doctor lurks at the margins. The best part is Chris and Roz; Dicks has a good handle on their voices, and you can tell he really loves this kind of corrupt city stuff. He did it well in Blood Harvest, and he would return to this same city-planet and some of its characters in Mean Streets. I really enjoyed all the stuff featuring them, from the stabby rat taxi driver to the charming Ogron police chief. On the other hand, I don't think Dicks has ever had a great handle on Benny. Did you know she is a professor and likes to drink? That seems to be about all he has ever figured out.

After a good opening and a decent middle (I didn't love the space yacht stuff, but it worked), it all fizzles out at the end. The Doctor having joined up with Chris and Roz, their plot ends up tying up with Benny's in a mind-boggling coincidence-- the serial killer they are chasing just happens to escape on a cruise liner going to the planet she is on! The planet is important to the plot, so I don't get why Dicks didn't have him just pick his destination. Once everyone converges on the planet, the way the Doctor saves the day is, to be frank, quite silly. I don't think it's meant to be comic, but it plays that way, and as if Dicks had no idea how to wrap it all up in the ten pages he had left.

I like the cover of my "Monster Collection" edition, very swish, but it was a bit incongruous that Dicks kept saying the Sontarans had red eyes and no lips, neither of which was true of the one on the cover!

Next Week: All caught up with my reviews of the New Adventures, so I'm rotating back to another one of my long-running reading projects... the Transformers!

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