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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The Glamour Chase


Author: Gary Russell
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 988 7
Available 08 July 2010

An archaeological dig in 1936 unearths relics from another time - and, as the Doctor, Amy and Rory realise, another planet. But if Enola Porter, noted adventuress, has really found evidence of an alien civilisation, why has Rory never heard of her? Added to that, since Amy’s been travelling with the Doctor for a while, why does she now think he’s from Mars? As an ancient spaceship reactivates, the Doctor discovers that nothing and no one can be trusted. The things that seem most real could actually be literal fabrications. Who can he believe when no one is what they seem? How can he defeat an enemy that can bend matter itself to its will? The buried secrets of the past are very much a threat to the present...

Unlike the other two books in this batch of novels, The Glamour Chase appears to take place at a slightly later point in the adventures of the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory, between the episodes Amy’s Choice and The Hungry Earth. Here, as in The Hungry Earth, the time travellers are on their way to Rio - though of course the TARDIS doesn’t land there but in the English countryside instead.

The author’s original submission for this slot in the publishing schedule was entitled Adorable Illusion, and would have seen the TARDIS crew returning to Earth to celebrate the first anniversary of Amy and Rory’s marriage, only to discover the machinations of the Illusion Master, a being that can bring one’s desires to life. That does sound an awful lot like the plot of Amy’s Choice, which is quite possibly why Russell withdrew it and wrote The Glamour Chase instead, with just weeks to meet his deadline.

Ironically, the replacement novel contains story elements that resemble the two-parter that follows Amy’s Choice, though thankfully these are less obvious: as in The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood, Amy is captured by aliens and held underground, allowing the author to focus on Rory and his uneasy relationship with the Doctor. This is by far the most commendable aspect of the novel: we learn more about Rory’s past in Leadworth, while the Doctor gains a new respect for the medic’s intelligence and compassion.

Russell also has some interesting things to say about post-traumatic stress disorder, which had not been diagnosed in 1936, and the roles of women in British society between the world wars.

However, in other respects I’m sorry to report that The Glamour Chase shows signs of its hasty composition. Russell tries too hard to emulate the Eleventh Doctor’s rambling mode of speech and Rory’s habit of half-formed phrases. Though arguably naturalistic (after all, few of us compose perfectly structured sentences when conversing in real life), when used to excess it clouds the reader’s comprehension of the narrative.

The plot itself seems similarly meandering and half-formed - and hard to follow, despite some familiar elements reworked from Terror of the Zygons and Star Trek. A character who loses his left hand early on in the novel has inexplicably gained a new one by the time we meet him again. The Doctor needs a bath following a tumble into a sheep dip, but he never gets one. The villains’ need for a “beacon” is difficult to comprehend, while their plans for the eponymous Glamour, a force that is barely mentioned until the final quarter of the book, are explained only after the threat has been eliminated.

Glamour (noun): an air of compelling charm, romance and excitement, especially when delusively alluring. The Glamour Chase’s characterisation of the series regulars may succeed in charming you, but I found its plot far from compelling.


Richard McGinlay

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