When Sarah Jane Smith discovers a picture from 1952 of the Doctor shaking hands with an East End mob boss, the two travel back in time to investigate events. They arrive in a London on the eve of an environmental disaster and a neighborhood on the brink of a turf war. But who is organizing the homeless young men into a new gang? And how is it related to the American priest whose sermons are galvanizing the community against the sin in their midst?
Given the Doctor's propensity to become entangled in key moments of British history, it was probably inevitable that at some point he would make an appearance during the Great Smog of 1952, when thousands of Londoners died as a result of air pollution concentrated by weather conditions. And by thrusting the Third Doctor (one of my favorite incarnations) and Sarah Jane Smith (easily the all-time best companion) into a situation mixing gangsters and aliens into a historical event, the stage is set for a memorable adventure. Yet in the end it's a mixture that doesn't quite catalyze. Perhaps this is because of the mobsters, whose involvement often distracts from the activities of the Doctor and the main threat he is addressing. Or perhaps it is the aliens Bishop creates, which prove a curious combination of power and triteness. But in the end it's a novel that doesn't live up to expectations given the elements involved and wastes a prime historical moment in the process.