The novel “Times Squared” by Rick Cross was published for the first time in 2016.
Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart arrives in New York City with his fiancee Sally Wright and his nephew Owain Vine for what’s supposed to be a vacation. Instead, since his arrival in the USA he gets involved in a series of mysteries that begin with a group of people hospitalized because they became comatose without any apparent cause.
Lieutenant Adrienne Kramer is investigating with a private detective, Paul Dawson, when he’s killed in mysterious circumstances. Kramer continues the work on her own but is forced to involve Lethbridge-Stewart to try to shed light on what appears to be a new Great Intelligence plan.
The Lethbridge-Stewart series tells the adventures of the character who became famous in the “Doctor Who” TV show when he works without the Doctor. The stories start from the period immediately following the debut of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in the TV show and then extend the period covered. These stories include some characters that appeared in the TV show, some invented for other productions connected to it, and others that were created specifically for these novels.
“Times Squared” is set in a period shortly after the television adventure “The Web of Fear“, in which the then Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart made his debut. After his promotion, he takes a vacation or at least that’s his intention but ends up once again involved in the plans of the Great Intelligence.
This novel has deep roots in the TV show as it explicitly refers to “The Web of Fear”. It partly reprises the plot of that serial setting it in New York but Rick Cross doesn’t just create a variant of it. In fact, in some ways that plot is used to give the reader a certain feeling of familiarity together with the presence of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart and then goes deep concerning both the story of the protagonist and that connected to the plans of the Great Intelligence.
The attack of the Great Intelligence to the New York subway is the most intense part of “Times Squared”, also because Rick Cross adds a horde of mice to the Yeti already seen in the TV show. This makes the novel sometimes rather crude, much more than “The Web of Fear”, which was based heavily on the claustrophobic atmospheres of the London subway. This part of the plot brings tension and a sense of threat but is only a part of the novel.
In my opinion, the most enjoyable part of “Times Squared” for “Doctor Who” fans is connected to Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart’s personal story. In an introduction to the novel by actor Terry Molloy, who played Davros in the TV show and in some audio adventures, he offered some memories of his colleague Nicholas Courtney, who helped make Lethbridge-Stewart a memorable character playing him for decades. This novel offers some information about his private life in a period just after his debut and I think it does it in a believable way, giving the readers the impression that they’re really reading the story of the character seen many times in the TV show.
The plot is full of action moments, sometimes even frenzied, but Rick Cross also adds many moments of private life of the protagonists while maintaining a good pace. The result is a novel that has a good balance in its narrative elements. It’s the first novel in the Lethbridge-Stewart series I read and the impression is definitely positive. In my opinion the author managed to capture the essence of the protagonist putting it into a truly enjoyable story for “Doctor Who” fans along with other characters created for the TV show and other novels. For this reason I recommend reading it to fans of the saga.