Doctor Who
The Shadow in the Glass

Authors: Justin Richards and Stephen Cole
BBC Books
5.99, US $6.95, Cdn $8.99
ISBN 0 563 53838 4
Available now

2001: More than fifty years after an unidentified flying object was shot down over it during wartime, the English village of Turelhampton remains guarded by troops and off-limits to the public. Meanwhile, a journalist discovers that the Nazi menace is still very much alive...

The current range consultant of the BBC's Doctor Who novels and his immediate predecessor have pooled their talents to produce this assemblage of crowd-pleasing elements, which engage the reader's interest from the word "go". As well as the return of that old favourite, the Brigadier, this is not the first Who story to revolve around the Second World War (in fact, it was the setting for Paul Leonard's The Turing Test just a few months ago).

However, such a major focus on Adolf Hitler as we have here has not been seen since Terrance Dicks' popular Timewyrm: Exodus, published by Virgin way back in 1991. Richards and Cole are careful to neither confirm nor deny the events of that book within their own narrative, which digs deeply into a fascinating historical background. Before reading this well-researched novel (which is backed up by a historical note at the end), I had never realised how hazy were the facts and theories surrounding Hitler's final days in his bunker.

A complex but eminently page-turning plot keeps us waiting for the reunion of the Brigadier and the Sixth Doctor. Instead, the first six chapters each establish different locations and/or sets of characters, each of which are then expertly weaved and tied up by the end of the story. These characters include several well-known historical figures, a strangely ageless British army officer, a race of creepy shadow creatures and a reporter who is every bit as nosy as Sarah Jane Smith or the Scream trilogy's Gale Weathers, and just as likely to get herself into trouble. For his own part, the Sixth Doctor is splendidly realised, from his amusing penchant for feeding his ample girth at every opportunity, to the more subtle description of Colin Baker's trademark exhalations of surprise.

Decidedly high-class hokum.

Richard McGinlay