Risk Assessment by James Goss
Reviewed by DJ Forrest
‘The Evening of a Long Day, in which the events of last night recounted, the seventh seal is broken, and our heroes encounter something quite remarkable.’
The first thing you notice about this novel is it’s after Toshiko and Owen, but before the demise of our teaboy Ianto Jones.
It’s been a long week, the team are tired, there are coffins lining up along the coast that have come through the Rift. A war is happening somewhere and Jack receives an unwelcome visit from the Torchwood Assessor which puts a damp squib on everything. Agnes Havisham has awoken from a deep sleep, she only wakes when there’s impending doom. This worries Jack, not just because they’re facing another ‘end of the world’ scenario, like that never happens in Torchwood, but that when Agnes arrives, she takes over completely. Jack is worried, and Jack doesn’t really get worried, about anything, ever, unless of course it’s a Dalek invasion (Doctor Who).
So for a good portion of the novel, Jack is extremely quiet and withdrawn and behaves himself around Agnes, keeps her sweet almost. Agnes has the power to shut Torchwood down, entombing them inside the building. Jack can’t afford for that to happen.
Not only are coffins arriving through the Rift, but something has hitched a ride and is now growing and growing and adapting and becoming something that can manipulate humans and creatures alike to get what it needs. It eats anything, plastic, people, vehicles, vermin and with each feed it grows. It is called a Vam and it devours complete planets, galaxies, and it seems that there is nothing that can stop it. The team seem baffled at it. But it’s a diversion for the actual threat, which keeps you on your toes throughout the book. You think the Vam is the threat, but you’re wrong. It’s part of a threat, but what about the coffins, and who is George and his time travelling machine?
There are so many wonderful glimpses into lives throughout the novel, and a hello again to Nina Rogers. Only a small glimpse but she’s there.
Agnes, she’s hard to warm to immediately and the team find her hard work although Gwen seems to win her favour.
If you haven’t read Risk Assessment yet, do so, if you haven’t had a chance to read the novels, look them out. They’re a wonderful collection of stories by some of our first rate writers of the Whoniverse and well worth a look in. James has written other novels for Torchwood, plus involved with Doctor Who in a greater capacity. Check out our other reviews of the Torchwood novels and audios.