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Option Lock

By Justin Richards

Book review by Paul Scoones

Option Lock feels like a television story. Set for the most part in and around an English country manor house, the book quickly summons to mind images from Battlefield; an impression that is reinforced later in the book when the military start pulling up in the driveway.

Without especially dwelling on their characters, Richards perfectly captures the Eighth Doctor and especially Sam. Their interplay is exquisitely handled; particularly memorable is an early scene in which the Doctor ignores a peculiar incident in favour of checking that Sam is okay when he finds her outside and soaking wet in the middle of the night.

The first few scene-setting chapters are deceptively give few hints to the story's later development. At the heart of the novel is a strong message about the danger of nuclear weapons in the wrong hands and the potential fallibility of computer systems. It's not an original subject by any means but Richards' plotting is sufficiently different to maintain the readers' keen interest in the resolution.

If the novel has a fault it is that the plot becomes rather convoluted in the last few chapters and at times left me a little baffled. Nevertheless I found Option Lock's clear readability and strong characterisation especially appealing, and I was left eagerly awaiting the next piece of fiction from the pen of Justin Richards. [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 53 (March 1998).

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