Doctor Who: Silhouette by Justin Richards (4 out of 5)
I have a confession, friends. I am new to the Who…the Doctor Who phenomenon. This is the first Doctor Who book I have read. Thank you to whomever it was at Random House who sent me and my coworker copies of the new titles coming out September 9,2014. This is the first one I read, recommended by F-Zero because “Justin Richards is the bomb” (or something similar, I don’t recall the exact wording). It’s been a rough week and harder to read than usual, so this was exactly what I needed to read. I really enjoyed it. And yes, for those who wonder or actually care, I DO really like Peter Capaldi as the good Doctor.
One victim is found in their study, with a metal letter opener between the shoulder blades. A piece of paper on the victim’s desk bears the name “Madame Vastra”. The crime itself is curious, not just because of the paper and the manner in which the killing occurred, but the fact that there is also a locked door and no signs of forced entry. The second victim, Bellamy, is a bruiser type who happens to be drinking in the same pub as Strax, the Sonatarian. Bellamy ends up having the life sucked out of him in an alley. There’s a Frost Fair going on in London, and the Carnival of Curiosities is where Jenny, Vastra’s wife, looks for answers. That’s where the good Doctor and Clara end up as well. The Doctor is intrigued by a brief interaction with Silhouette, an enigmatic woman whose secrets may hold all the answers to what’s going on.They also keep seeing Empath, an undertaker (or a dude who looks a hell of a lot like an undertaker). You also get a brief introduction to other supporting characters who end up having a part in this story: Michael Smith (although I kept misreading it as “Matt Smith”. Wonder why), the “Strong Man” at the Carnival of Curiosities, Oswald and Jim, Festin, Affinity, and last but certainly not least, Milton Orestes, a wealthy man who’s apparently at the center of all of this somehow(in true fashion, with the many characters, remember, nothing is as it seems). Orestes has secrets galore and an agenda that doesn’t become real clear until Vastra and Jenny are imprisoned, more people are killed, and then the whole evil plan makes itself known. Orestes is a wanted man by the Shadow Proclamation for various crimes, and he’s hatched this diabolical plot to destroy London and escape from his death sentence. Reading the character of Orestes, the dialogue and apparent villainy, reminded me a lot of Durand- Durand, the mad scientist who traps Jane Fonda’s Barbarella character into the Orgasmatron, in Roger Vadim’s cult classic film Barbarella. If Milo O’Shea were still alive and they turned this novel into a Doctor Who episode, he could have played Milton Orestes.
Sorry, I got off track there…but I had already cast half the characters in this novel, so that means I really did enjoy it. I don’t often do that with books, but I did with this one. Now, the question is this- can the good Doctor and his merry band of associates solve the crimes, get Vastra and Jenny freed, get their hands on Orestes before he flies the coop, and save London from being obliterated by a cloud of hatred? All questions will be answered, but first you must read the book. Which I strongly encourage you to, dear reader.