Thanks to Professor Bernice Summerfield

Books As we’ve seen on numerous occasions in recent years, during his travels the Doctor has left documentary evidence of one form or another, be it an Egyptian hieroglyph, a cameo in a Laurel and Hardy film or artefacts in futuristic museums based on asteroids. He also has an affinity for the archaeologists who could potentially uncover these appearances, presumably because like him they’re interested in discovering history except of course the Doctor can be eyewitness to events that they can only make evidential assumptions about.

In The Hounds of Artemis, writer James Goss draws these two elements together as the grand daughter of an archaeologist uncovers the diary of one Amy Pond which describes an incident in which she and the Doctor gatecrashed an expedition in the late 1920s which is searching for the tomb of the titular goddess. The Time Lords knows that this Murder in Mesopotamia full of middle class ninnies are for the chop, but their fate is a total mystery and so he tags along sure that his presence is the reason that whatever befell these poor souls didn’t tip over into something much worse.

This is the franchise doing a full on impression of the Indiana Jones/Lara Croft paradigm, with tents in caverns, breakfast around campfires and torches illuminating wall carvings. Thanks to Professor Bernice Summerfield, we’ve enjoyed plenty of similar adventures set on alien planets, but these kinds of Terran investigations are relatively rare, presumably because the given writer has to justify why the Doctor doesn’t just simply go back in the TARDIS and find out for himself what the given artifact was for.

Like many of the best Doctor Who stories, a great deal of the synopsis is in the title, but with what is a relatively slight tale to explain what the hounds are would give away far too much (I’d argue that both the cover and the interview with Goss in this month’s DWM might even go too far!). Goss carefully paces his story by cross cutting between the first person of Amy’s diary and a more traditional third person, often giving two perspectives on the same scene. It’s perhaps slightly more idiosyncratic than in his award winning Tenth Doctor story, Dead Air, which kept to the Time Lord’s perspective but does allow him to ramp up the tension as the TARDIS team are put under threat.

The two threads are kept neatly separate by having two readers. Matt Smith has become an old hand with audiobooks already and he clearly enjoys himself as skips between the Doctor, Amy and the rest of the characters, Goss’s staccato prose (or should that be script) allowing for a few poetic moments in which his Doctor’s range shines through. At one point Amy describes how his “Young face suddenly became very old” and you can hear that incongruity in the actor’s voice as he skips between threatening the villain and promising to take his companion for a happy meal.

His real world companion, Clare Corbett, arguably has the harder job because she’s not Karen Gillan in a piece which may well have been written with the television companion in mind. But Corbett is a worthy replacement as she skips between the grand daughter and Amy herself, and if her accent isn’t a complete match, aided by Goss, she catches most of Karen’s mannerisms (including the Scottish stormer's slightly glib approach to proceedings) and you could well imagine that it’s Amy offering her best German accent or Doctor impression when necessary.

To say much more would spoiler your enjoyment of what is a very entertaining play. This is a full-blooded burst of action adventure mixed with an horrific dose of body horror that’s well worth uncovering, the two narrative threads keeping the momentum and mystery content up right through to the end, the performances of Smith and Corbett making this a worthwhile purchase (assuming you don't already have the vanilla release gifted to you by the The Guardian).

Doctor Who: The Hounds of Artemis by James Goss is published by AudioGo. RRP: £9.25 ISBN: 978-1408427460. Review copy supplied.

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