The Clockwise Man
By DJ Forrest
Written by Justin Richards
For BBC Books
First published May 19th 2005
The Clockwork Man kind of gives it away a little as to what the story is about, and you get the feel that you’ve seen and heard of these monsters before, and to an extent you have. But what this story does, is tell of another type of clockwork monster, that can convey human characteristics, almost flawlessly in fact, so that unless you were sure that there was no clock in the room, would be unable to detect any hint of a droid.
I like this story. There’s a hint of history in this novel, of the Russian tsar and the family in hiding. There’s trouble afoot in 1920s London, people are being attacked by heavy handed thugs, but what they’re searching for is unclear for quite a while.
The fact that this story is set in London, makes it more exciting. Sure, a journey into the wide blue yonder on a planet that doesn’t really exist, makes for some fun reading – but knowing that the story is Earth based, well, I just find it more appealing really.
This is a 9th Doctor story with Rose Tyler in tow. No Captain Jack I’m afraid, but enough characters to keep the story going as there were in the 3rd Doctor story – Carnival of Monsters.
Justin Richards is one of my favourite Who writers. His novel ‘The Deviant Strain’ is still one of my ultimate favourite 9th Doctor novels, plus it also features Jack Harkness. The Clockwork Man is again a wonderful story packed full of twists and turns and a few smiles here and there especially when you find out what’s in the room above Rose Tyler’s in the hotel. It’s very stiff upper lip, country club kind of attitude in much of the guests, but it’s enjoyable to read and not as stuffy as a few old ‘classic’ period novels. Especially as, when the chips are down, they all come out fighting!
I love the 9th Doctor novels. Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor is perhaps a little more brusque with Rose. He likes her, enough to want to keep her alive to send home to Jackie once in a while, but he does allow her to think for herself, even if he does sigh a little when she doesn’t click automatically on what the hell he’s talking about. Some of the time through the story, I often wasn’t sure what he was getting at either – and I’m not blond!
Overall, it’s a great story and definitely one to pick up on a wintry evening, when the fog is settling and the street lights come on. It’s not a scary book, as some have been of late. It’s enjoyable though. And you may need a hanky – just saying!