Home : Archive : TSV 31-40 : TSV 40 : Review

Blood Harvest

By Terrance Dicks

Book review by Felicity Scoones

Blood Harvest is a sequel to The Five Doctors, State of Decay and to a lesser extent The Deadly Assassin. As such it would be an advantage to have some familiarity with these stories before reading this New Adventure.

Blood Harvest is set on three planets: Earth, the vampire planet in E-Space and Gallifrey. The Earth sections take place in 1930s Chicago and are narrated by a private detective called Dekker. The rest is told in a traditional third person style.

The Chicago sections are the most compelling of the book but ultimately unnecessary for the unfolding of the plot. The E-Space sections are more directly related to the plot but frustrating. Whenever the action is about to get somewhere the narrative switches to Chicago and when it returns to E-Space whatever was about to be achieved has been concluded in the interim. The disjointedness of it makes me worrier if Dicks fused together two quite separate novel ideas.

Dicks' original creation, Dekker, is a great character, likable, lively and credible. The Doctor is recognisable, although the simplistic psychological manipulations he relies on when dealing with awkward situations are unconvincingly successful.

The other characters are disappointing. Ace is written like a mild sex fantasy with Dekker, like the game master's pet character in a role-playing game, lusting after her. Bernice is unrecognisable as the archaeologist who was recently seen relishing the Braxiatel Collection in Theatre of War or researching Tenochitlan in Hummingbird. Instead she comes over as a sulky child, scrabbling around in the mud and squabbling with Romana.

Romana herself is oddly depicted. Like the Doctor she has most of the answers but unlike him she is ineffectual and, Dicks tells us, more concerned with good manners than common sense; 'No situation, no matter how urgent, could override Romana's aristocratic politeness.' The rest of the characters are cardboard cutouts, painted with all the finesse of Enid Blyton. The Chicago gangsters are simplistic, brutal arid easily charmed by Ace and the Doctor. The homogeneous groups on the vampire planet willingly accept 'Lady Bernice' and Lady Romana as their leaders in much the same way that Blyton's Gypsies unquestioningly accept the wisdom and superiority of the Famous Five.

Blood Harvest is not a satisfying book. Frequently it appears that Dicks couldn't be bothered writing the action so he speeds up complicated scenes with a simple sentence; 'It didn't take the Doctor long to achieve the results he wanted.' But the most irritating aspect is the way Dicks writes down to his audience; 'He fired twice, blam-blam!' (Aaaaargh!) The book seems out of place with the New Adventures. Blood Harvest is superficial but inoffensive. The main point of interest is that it is a sort of prequel to Goth Opera, the first Missing Adventure.

This item appeared in TSV 40 (July 1994).

Index nodes: Blood Harvest