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The Hollow Men

By Keith Topping & Martin Day

Book review by Paul Scoones

The best thing to come of the changeover to BBC Books has been the welcome return of Seventh Doctor and Ace novels which evoke the style of the last couple of TV seasons. Arguably this might have happened had Virgin retained the range following the arrival of the Eighth Doctor, but I suspect that Seventh Doctor Missing Adventures authors might have been inclined to place their novels somewhere in the midst of the New Adventures canon. The transition to BBC Books has denied them this chance, and instead we get books like The Hollow Men, which sit very comfortably alongside TV stories like The Curse of Fenric or early New Adventures such as Nightshade.

The Seventh Doctor of this novel is the moodily introspective character he was becoming in his last season but not yet the darkly manipulative figure who overshadows most New Adventures. Ace is a sociable teenager full of indignation at the injustices of the world and a far cry from the battle weary mercenary she later became.

The setting for the story, a quiet English village in the early twenty-first century in which strange things are happening, is the perfect scenario for this version of the Doctor and Ace. Keith Topping and Martin Day have previously demonstrated a talent for getting us to care about their characters, and here we are very easily engaged in wanting to find out what happens to the cursed inhabitants of Hexen Bridge.

There's a tendency for many of the BBC novels to be sequels to TV stories and The Hollow Men is no exception. To reveal which one would give away an important piece of the plot, but suffice to say that this is one Doctor Who book which won't disappoint fans of the Seventh Doctor's era. It's one of the few BBC novels I'm actually relishing the opportunity to read again. Brilliant stuff! [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 55 (October 1998).

Index nodes: The Hollow Men