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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
Judgement of the Judoon


Author: Colin Brake
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 639 8
Available 16 April 2009

Elvis the King Spaceport has grown into the sprawling city-state of New Memphis - an urban jungle, where organised crime is rife. But the launch of the new Terminal 13 hasn’t been as smooth as expected, and things are about to get worse... When the Doctor arrives, he finds that the whole terminal has been locked down. The notorious Invisible Assassin is at work again, and the Judoon troopers sent to catch him will stop at nothing to complete their mission. With the assassin loose on the mean streets of New Memphis, the Doctor is forced into a strange alliance. Together with teenage private eye Nikki and a ruthless Judoon Commander, the Doctor soon discovers that things are even more complicated - and dangerous - than he first thought...

This novel sees the Tenth Doctor aided by not one but two temporary companions, young private investigator Nikki Jupiter and Judoon Commander Rok Ma. Yes, that’s right: rather than being the villains of the piece as the book’s title might suggest (a less misleading title might have been Terminal 13 or The Invisible Assassin), the Judoon are on the Doctor’s side this time around. Well, after getting off to a bad start, that is...

Colin Brake’s prologue and opening chapter, in which a heavy-handed Judoon investigation of a space freighter leaves the vessel all but crippled, remind us that these creatures are rather like the Vogons from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: not actually evil, but bad-tempered, officious and callous. Unlike the Vogons, however, the Judoon are not hampered by bureaucracy. Rather, their motto is “justice must be swift”, and they are ever eager to expedite the job in hand and “get their man”, regardless of any collateral damage that may arise in the process.

In order to avert the same kind of havoc that was wreaked upon the space freighter and upon the hospital in Smith and Jones, the Doctor pleads with the Judoon Commander for a more softly, softly approach to the investigation. Finding himself partnered with Rok Ma, the Time Lord is surprised to discover hidden depths to the officer, including a sense of humour. I was reminded of Terrance Dicks’s Ogron gumshoe Garshak in the New Adventures novels Shakedown and Mean Streets, and there’s a similar sci-fi / detective fiction vibe to this story.

You can have fun trying to spot the clues along the way. I am pleased to say that I guessed three of the author’s major plot revelations (some others I did not), but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment in any way.

British readers and recent visitors to the UK will also appreciate the satirical aspect of the troubles experienced at the newly opened Terminal 13, which echo last year’s chaos at Terminal 5 of London’s Heathrow airport.

Judgement of the Judoon is a very enjoyable yarn - whether or not you’re reading it while waiting for a plane.


Richard McGinlay

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