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Bad Therapy

By Matthew Jones

Book review by Chris Girdler


The absence of Ben Aaronovitch's So Vile a Sin not only leaves the 'psi-powers' unfinished for the moment, but results in Roz's exit from the New Adventures being given away in the follow-up books. For readers who disapprove of major character developments in unread novels being prematurely revealed, it may pay to wait until So Vile a Sin as her departure is referred to often in Bad Therapy and presumably also in future New Adventures.

Although not linked to a specific series, the empaths in Bad Therapy are aliens facing extinction through termination in a hostile era in Earth's history; a scenario used in Return of the Living Dad and The Death of Art. The empaths possess an ability similar to the Glamour from Damaged Goods; their features and habits molded to psychologically heal people in need of therapy. The themes of loss and healing through delusion provide a logical winding-down process - a diversion from the 'heavy' novels of late - giving the book an emotive verve whilst retaining traditional elements of Doctor Who.

Several plot strands run closely together, the Doctor and Chris narrowly missing each other when switching between the closely-knit locations. One of the Doctor's previous companions appears in the one sub-plot that sticks out like a sore thumb but it is successfully combined with the main action two thirds of the way through the novel. It is at this point that Bad Therapy drags on a bit. Jones's formulaic prose places him alongside Hinton or Blythe, but the sharp pace and emphasis on plotting events effectively keep the reader interested. A little pruning and it would have been perfect.

This item appeared in TSV 50 (February 1997).

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