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Fighting evil aboard a floating courthouse

The Romance of Crime - Gareth Roberts

In the human-colonized Uva Beta Uva system, justice is dispensed from the Rock of Judgment, an asteroid converted into a roving courtroom in which cases are heard and sentences carried out. When the Doctor, Romana, and K-9 arrive, they quickly become entangled in an investigation by a newly-arrived lawman into suspicious activities on board. For despite all of the seeming normality aboard the Rock, events are unfolding that are tied to the inexplicable murder of a survey team on the eleventh planet, one that suggest the return of the most feared criminal in the history of the system — despite her execution aboard the Rock years before.

 

Gareth Roberts was at the beginning of a prolific career as a writer and contributor to the Doctor Who franchise when he wrote this novel, the first of four he would contribute to the Virgin Missing Adventures series. It is a work that evokes the "base-under-siege" trope familiar to fans of the franchise, albeit one that was less in use at this point in the series. It helps that the base in the story is not the typical scientific station or military outpost but a floating courthouse, one that allows Roberts to draw upon his experience as a Court of Appeals clerk for an unusual setting for the franchise. Combined with a pair of narrative twists that keep the plot going in the later chapters, it all comes together to make for an entertaining adventure that fans of the characters will enjoy.