Another Life

Author: Peter Anghelides
Read by: John Barrowman
BBC Audio
RRP: 15.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 40567 704 2
ISBN-10: 1 40567 704 X
Available 02 April 2007

Rain, violence and death, it's another regular week in Cardiff for the Torchwood Team. Operating outside of the law, the team investigate aliens incursion. Now, beneath the canopy of ever-present rain, the people of Cardiff are dying. What links the rain, starfish and the unexpected deaths? Can Captain Jack and his team stop the killing before Cardiff becomes a drowned city?...

Another Life is the new audio book from the original novel by Peter Anghelides - who already has a long history with Doctor Who, from Moving On, his first published short story. His novel Frontier Worlds was voted Best Eighth Doctor Book in 1998 and the Ancestor Cell was voted in the top ten best genre novels in 2000. He has also contributed to Big Finish's Short Trips series and wrote a Sarah Jane Smith audio adventure for them.

The book has been, once more, ably abridged by Joseph Lidster and is narrated Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman. Although the majority of Barrowman's work has been in the theatre, it seems that with his various appearances he has not been off our screens for any length of time over the last two years, and he is set to make a return to Doctor Who this year.

Of the three audio books on offer Another Life comes over as the weakest plot. It's not that it isn't well written or narrated; the problem comes from the central plot device being too generic, its very similar to Fallen (1998), as well as a number of other films/shows, which also have a body-hoping killer. To be fair to Peter Anghelides, this may be a consequence of having his book condensed, loosing some of the subtlety and nuance of the plot. In the author's note he highlights that, although happy with Lidster's work, certain elements had to be sacrificed, including the intriguing thought that Gwen may be doing something dodgy with a strangers hairdryer. Makes you almost want to go out and get the book as well.

The story plunges you straight in at the deep end with Torchwood on the trail of a particularly gruesome murderer, who bites out the back of his victims heads. One of the things which is disconcerting is that without the preamble of the investigation, the tracking down of the killer seems a little too pat as Jack gets Toshiko to use her computer skills to track down him down. This all seems a little implausible until the confrontation between Jack and the killer is used to explain this apparent plot hole.

Torchwood, being a more adult orientated show, is able to push the envelope of acceptability; in a way that Doctor Who would never be permitted. So, expect particularly graphic descriptions of murder and mutilation, as well as a colourful use of the English language, for anyone who has read the book or listens to the audiobook let me know where I can get a pair of those shoes for my other half (you'll know it when you hear it).

Overall this release is well written and well read, a nice addition to anyone's Torchwood collection.

Charles Packer

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