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Solving mysteries when the Doctor is out

Doctor Who: The Face of the Enemy - David A. McIntee

On the surface David A. McIntee's novel is a curious contribution in a series entitled "Past Doctor Adventures," as it's a Doctor Who novel without the title character. Yet McIntee pulls it off superbly by drawing upon the rich collection of supporting characters that have been introduced over the years. Setting it during one of the Third Doctor's unwilling excursions on behalf of the Time Lords, it's premised around two seemingly unrelated events: a violent bank robbery and the crash of a jet containing the body of a junior governmental minister one who is still very much alive in London. Called in to investigate the latter mystery, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart finds a substitute for the absent Doctor in the form of a husband-and-wife team with familiarity with the unusual: Ian and Barbara Chesterton, two of the Doctor's original companions.

 

Over the course of the book McIntee has to mix both the show's well-defined characters with his own original creations in a context that is unusual for a Doctor Who story. This is a challenge that he pulls off with considerable success, devising a novel that manages the difficult feat of offering an original mix of story elements that still demonstrates considerable fealty to his source material. And as successful as he is in depicting the portrayals of the Brigadier, Ian, Barbara, and the Doctor's other friends in the show, his greatest success is in capturing the Master in all of his Third Doctor glory. Though the character of the Master has been a longtime foe of the Doctor's he was never better than in Roger Delgado's original portrayal of him as the suave sadist. McIntee captures him in all of his arrogance and deviousness, making for a very different sort of dynamic than is possible with any of the Doctor-UNIT combinations. It all makes for an adventure that demonstrates the rich storytelling possibilities that exist in the Doctor Who universe, even with its eponymous character is absent.