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Rip Tide (Dr Who Novellas)

by Louise Cooper

(Telos Publishing, £25.00, 152 pages, hardback, deluxe, signed, limited edition, standard edition also available priced £10.00, published 27 February 2003.)

The sixth in Telos Publishing's excellent Doctor Who Novellas is Rip Tide by Louise Cooper. Cooper is new to the WHO fold and hopefully will remain within it, because, as has been the case with many other 'Doctor Who virgins' in this line of books she makes a rather splendid job.

The Eighth Doctor (supposedly fresh from the events of the TV Movie) is in Cornwall, England, where the body of a man has been found in the sea. The Doctor soon finds himself investigating the actions and aims of a mysterious visitor to the village -- 'Ruth' who turns out to be an alien trapped on Earth. We see a change here with the Doctor wearing clothes which are appropriate -- waterproofs, jeans and various summer hats. As the novella progresses, Ruth and the lifeboat member's sister, Nina, compare very nicely which makes it an even more interesting read.

Rip Tide is a simple tale which doesn't abuse too much the old clichéd setting of a sleepy village in England where evil is at work. Instead it pushes these boundaries further -- emphasizing that Ruth is trapped in this very secluded area with nothing and no-one to turn to. The Doctor accompanied by Nina is soon on a trail to find Ruth and find out what her motives are and what she wants with Nina's brother, Steve.

The book's main protagonist -- Nina -- is a very solid and interesting character and one which is instantly believable; she laughs, she cries and she moans. Writing from her point of view always makes the plot steam on ahead in pace and I'm sure Nina will be one of my favourite book characters of 2003. The only problem I have with this character is that she fancies the Doctor ... how many times are we going to see this?

The Doctor really doesn't get involved in the action until about half way through, from which point you see little but him! This of course makes a very nice change indeed and is something which happened very rarely in the TV series, and when it did seemed to work out quite well then too.

There is a limited cast of characters, though, and the plot may have benefited from more characters from the fishing community, for instance, or bigger parts for others.

The book is a very good and entertaining read with plenty of light-hearted points and is thought-provoking, too. The reader can instantly tell that Cooper has not watched the show 'too' closely as it focuses mainly on the most prominent of the show's mythos and features, i.e TARDIS, aliens.

Steven Gallagher's introduction sets you off for the journey very nicely and is possibly one of the best introductions yet. Fred Gambino's cover illustration however, does leave a lot to be desired; for me it's far too plain and just doesn't set the mood of the piece. Previously we have seen illustrations of exciting and thrilling points in the story itself or images of the mysterious settings. Some bloke paddling about in the water simply doesn't 'do' anything. A different title may have worked out better too, I guess.

Although not the greatest in the line of novellas so far, Rip Tide is a good read nonetheless and I would particularly recommend this to those 'casual fans' out there as it's not too complex and doesn't get confusing with continuity references etc -- go out and buy it! Here's for more Louise Cooper Doctor Who books: it's her first attempt and a good one at that. It's a must even though it may have a few let downs.

Review by Andy K Kitching.
This review first appeared in Shockeye's Snack.

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