Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Stone's Lament

Starring: Lisa Bowerman
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 22 X, BFPCD8
Available now

Reclusive billionaire Bratheen Traloor has lived in isolation on the planet Rhinvil for over 20 years. Now he has invited Bernice to examine a mysterious artefact unearthed during building work at his sprawling mansion. But what became of the construction crew?...

It's been a good month for fans of Mike Tucker's writing, for in addition to Big Finish's latest Doctor Who adventure, Dust Breeding, he has also scripted this Bernice release. Palpable sexual tensions are exuded during this psychological drama, which combines elements from Psycho, 2001: A Space Odyssey and even Hammer's The House That Dripped Blood.

Unfortunately, these single-disc releases are in danger of showing an over-reliance on the device of the eccentric isolationist, something that Big Finish's rival BBV has fallen foul of far too often. I'm sure that it helps to keep the cast numbers down, but the previous Bernice CD, The Secret of the Cassandra, featured a similarly reclusive sea captain with a similarly sentient computer to keep him company. Perhaps it's just a case of lamentable bad timing that this release ended up swapping places in the schedule with The Extinction Event, which may yet offer more variety.

This is an enjoyable enough 70 minutes of adventure, which keeps the surprises coming even after you think you've working it all out. However, I cannot help yearning for Bernice's earlier double-CD days, when her audio adventures seemed to have more substance about them.

Richard McGinlay