(ISBN 0-563-40583-X)







 From 13TH-century

 England to the former

 Soviet Union, from the

 United Stated to the

 cold wastes of space,

 the various strands

 of a complex plan

 come together and

 threaten to engulf

 the world in nuclear




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Option Lock







After the below par Kursaal, my opinion of future-range editor Justin Richards’ first novel for BBC Books is almost certainly slightly higher than it would have been had it followed a different release. All the same, Option Lock is still patently better than anything that Richards ever wrote for Virgin. The plot is, for the most part, enticing; the regulars are handled masterfully; and even the supporting cast of characters are, in the main, very well rounded and compelling.


Option Lock is perhaps Sam Jones’ strongest outing to date. Not only are we treated to a charming sub-plot that sees Sam half-fall for the inscrutable Captain William Pickering, but we are also privy to a lot of minutiae that really helps get Sam over as being real. Richards makes a really big deal about Sam having grown her hair long, for instance. Now Sam’s hairstyle might seem wholly irrelevant to most readers, but in bringing it up time and again Richards really gets us into Sam’s head and seeing things as she sees them. Sam may well be caught up in the adventure of a lifetime, dropping postcards home from far-flung galaxies in the distant future, but she’s still conscious about her new hairdo. She’s still uncomfortable when she finds herself stood in front of the nonchalant Doctor wearing nothing but a wet T-shirt. She’s still real.



Another thing I like about this book

is how it portrays the Doctor and

how the plot sucks him in. Whilst

Richards’ story is ambitious in

scope, for the Doctor Option Lock

begins with a rather low-key bit of

detective work in a country estate

in present-day England. Gradually the Doctor’s investigation on the Silver Estate draws him into the altogether more momentous world of US Politics, secret Star Wars satellites, and impending nuclear Armageddon!


All told then, Option Lock is an absorbing and suspenseful novel. Whilst at times the pacing does feel a little bit off, the great characters and enthralling plot more than compensate. In years to come I doubt that I’ll recall every nuance of this book, but powerful scenes like the nuclear launch – which is wonderfully encapsulated by Black Sheep’s cover illustration, by the way – will doubtless stay with me for a very long time.


Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2010


E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

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