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Who Killed Kennedy

by David Bishop
Doctor Who Books (Virgin), © 1996, PB, 275 pp, ISBN #0-426-20467-0
Reviewed July 1997

Bishop has concocted a clever Doctor Who novel here: Written in the first person by a fictional British reporter named James Stevens, it applies the best conspiracy-theory style to the early exploits of the Third Doctor.

In this story, Stevens is on the periphery of the Doctor's arrival on Earth in "Spearhead from Space", and with some urging from an anonymous tipster goes on to investigate the crypto-Fascist group UNIT and its mysterious scientific advisor, "Doctor John Smith". His investigation is a wonderful melange of the Doctor's many adventures in the first 70 years of the 20th century: An exploit in World War II, and several adventures in the 1960s, all by people who look different and have different assistants. Stevens draws the logical conclusion: "The Doctor" is a code-name for a team of deep cover government agents! But -- to what end?

Stevens continues to investigate, being occasionally beaten by thugs along the way, and eventually losing his job. He meets and becomes involved with Dodo Chaplet, who is suffering from acute memory loss (thanks to the Time Lords in "The War Games", although she doesn't know this), and who was apparently imprisoned and interrogated sometime afterwards. He interviews Professor Liz Shaw, who is under a gag order and can't say much about UNIT. And he follows several other adventures of the Doctor's, but from the point of view of a slightly-above-average British citizen.

It eventually comes to a head when the identity of his anonymous tipster is revealed, and everything ends in a fashion befitting one of the Doctor's stranger and more frenetic adventures.

Bishop's writing is above-average for your typical media tie-in potboiler, although he perhaps paints Stevens as a little too unsympathetic (he's a womanizer, and rather unscrupulous on the whole). The book's timing is carefully and entertainingly worked out, although I rather wish he'd played with more of the Doctor's UNIT adventures than he did. All-in-all, though, it's an entertaining piece of popcorn.

hits since 13 August 2000.

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