September Books 6) Just War, by Lance Parkin

At a quarter to seven on June twenty-eighth, the Germans attacked. I was there, most of us were. It was Friday, the warmest evening of the year. We were just coming back from church and Mayor Sherwill was making a speech on Smith Street, trying to reassure everyone. There was a droning noise, a squeal, and then a thud. We’d never heard a sound like it before, so we didn’t realize at first that the Germans were bombing the harbour.

This is a New Adventure with the Seventh Doctor, Benny, Ros and Chris, with flashbacks to the Seventh Doctor’s travels with Mel (which have never merited a full-length spinoff novel of their own). I realised about a qurter of the way in that I had heard an audio adaptation of it several years ago, one of the very first Big Finish audios about Benny, with her husband Jason replacing most of the other regular characters. The audio was good, but the book is also very good; too many Second World War stories, and not just in the Whoniverse, reach for easy cliches, and although the nastiest characters here are German and the nicest (apart from regulars) are Brits, there is a decent level of ambiguity all the way thorugh – including about the Doctor’s role. Ros in particular gets some good moments as an authoritative black woman officer impacting the establishment in London, and poor Benny gets some nasty torture at the hands of the occupiers of Guernsey. The New Adventures seem to have been passing through a good phase generally at this point, in early 1996, though the end must have been already looming.