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Dancing the Code

By Paul Leonard

Book review by Rochelle Thickpenny

Venusian Lullaby did not impress me and after reading Dancing the Code Paul Leonard's novels still don't strike me with enthusiasm. This book is more logical than his last, but is still no more than just an average, tedious adventure.

The novel is slotted between Planet of the Daleks and The Green Death. I feel that by concentrating on UNIT he has neglected to fulfill the purpose of the main adventure. We never ascertain the meaning of the Dancing the Code title.

There is not a lot of substance holding the plot together. An ancient alien civilisation remains hidden for hundreds of years in the desert until the potential for domination of the Arab military forces becomes too much of a lure. UNIT runs around trying to gain control of the situation. This book is unusual in the sense that we never have the point of view of the alien species. They are purely a tool and almost seem a lost cause if they weren't needed for UNIT to battle.

Leonard achieves an excellent and indepth portrayal of his characters. He has captured the essence of the Seventies Jo Grant, and Doctor's wry humour and flamboyancy are a delight to read.

On the downside we are expected to believe that the Brigadier and company can travel back and forth between the Arab states and Britain within a incredibly short time span. This sometimes confuses the action. Although set mainly in Kebiria, it reads very much like Leonard wanted to include a classic British alien invasion making a rather hurriedly written and sometimes unbelievable plot-jump. Another nit-pick is the disappointing treatment of Catriona Talliser, who makes a strong impression in the first half of the book, only to suddenly drop out of sight, then suddenly reappears to be nicely tidied away at the conclusion of the tale.

If you are considering this as your first delve into the Missing Adventures then save yourself the bother and leave it until there is nothing left on your shelf to read, as at best it is just a struggle to get through.

This item appeared in TSV 45 (September 1995).

Index nodes: Dancing the Code