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Review — Deadfall

First Published:
Sonic Screwdriver #106

Publish Date:
February 1998

As I look back, I recall very little of Deadfall. Just goes to prove it was a "junk food" book.

As some of you may have noted from previous reviews, I am not a fan of Jason Kane, ex-husband of the legendary Bernice Summerfield. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to say that I hate him. He’s an inconsistent whinging stupid oaf who doesn’t deserve to even appear within the same pages as Benny. Except, of course, during his debut novel of Death and Diplomacy and, I am surprised to report, in Gary Russell’s latest, Deadfall.

Deadfall is the first of Virgin’s "BenNAs" which focuses primarily on characters other than Benny herself, instead relying on the aforementioned Jason and, much to my delight, Emile Mars-Smith (who first appeared in Beyond the Sun). And in voyaging to, and exploring, a planet that shouldn’t be where it is, and its concealed city, they also come along a favourite of Virgin’s string of novels , Chris Cwej — albeit a Chris Cwej who spends most of the book in an amnesiac state and thus not being so much the Chris we’ve all come to know and love.

These continuing characters (along my other faves like Braxiatel, Tameka, Joseph the electronic porter, and, of course, Wolsey!) work so well in that, in less than half a dozen BenNAs, we are getting a remarkably good feel for the universe these books are set in. To quote a line more usually attributed to Macintosh computers, "It just works."

Gary Russell, I must report, has been far from my favourite NA author. Not that he’s intrinsically bad (quite a few get in before him there!) but because his work has been boring, bog-standard (the telemovie novelisation being the most obvious example of that). In some ways this book is quite simple and does degenerate into a run-around, but I can forgive him this time as so many of the characters in this book draw you into the story so well. Jason and the young Emile make a sensational double, despite early misgivings about each other, and I hope this partnership resurfaces.

The other thing that marks this book is that it’s very funny — most of it not in a blatant "let’s say something funny" fashion but arising from the quirks of the individuals involved. The cats (Wolsey early on and ship’s cat Smokey during the rest) probably get the best bits (though Emile and Jason’s repartee contains many a classic line), and we finally find out why flashing lights have been a staple of spaceship design since man took to the stars.

In all, definitely a book to grab for a read. While you may look back and comment on the dodgy plotline (though it makes sense and slots in nicely with the Benny Universe), you’ll have plenty of fun while reading it.

You might even come to like Jason Kane.

End of Review

Here’s the list of the Doctor Who reviews available here:
Benny Adventure: Beyond the Sun
Benny Adventure: Deadfall
Benny Adventure: Ghost Devices/Mean Streets/Tempest
Benny Adventure: The Sword of Forever
Fanzines: Mag Bag #1
Fanzines: Mag Bag #2
Fanzines: Mag Bag #3
Fanzines: Mag Bag #4
Fanzines: Mag Bag #5
Fanzines: Mag Bag #6
Fanzines: Mag Bag #7
Fanzines: Mag Bag #8
Fanzines: Mag Bag #9
Fanzines: Mag Bag #10
Fanzines: Mag Bag #11
Fanzines: Mag Bag #12
Missing Adventure: Dancing the Code
Missing Adventure: Downtime
Missing Adventure: Invasion of the Cat-People
Missing Adventure: Lords of the Storm
Missing Adventure: Scales of Injustice
Missing Adventure: Shadow of Weng-Chiang
Missing Adventure: System Shock
New Adventure: Bloodheat
New Adventure: Death of Art
New Adventure: Dimension Riders
New Adventure: Eternity Weeps
New Adventure: Falls the Shadow
New Adventure: Legacy
New Adventure: No Future
New Adventure: Sleepy
TV: The Curse of Fenric
TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy
TV: The Happiness Patrol
TV: Season 25 Review
TV: Season 27 Review (the 2005 return)
TV: The Twin Dilemma
→ Or just head back to the Doctor Who Index

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This page last updated by David J Richardson on Wed, 20 Apr 2005.