BBC Books has released a set of three paperbacks that are effectively (as the label on the front of each states) a prequel to the Starz/BBC Miracle Day series.
Sarah Pinborough returns for her third contribution to the Torchwood books, having had her talents showcased in the Consequences anthology with the emotionally charged and, quite frankly, brilliant short story Kaleidoscope, and Into The Silence, her first full length novel.
Focusing primarily on the returning DCI Tom Cutler and Andy Davidson, and featuring another appearance by the brilliant Suzie Costello, we see the two officers investigating a series of deaths involving a little blood and a few exploding eyeballs, interspersed with a smattering of bloody suicides.
With the Hub destroyed in Children Of Earth, a military sector known only as the Department have been investigating the wreckage, salvaging the alien technology and cataloguing it for later use. The wreckage yields the body of Suzie Costello, revived by a piece of technology that she had about her person as yet another insurance policy, which allows her to go on another killing spree.
Flashbacks take us back to the heyday of Torchwood, with Tosh and Owen making a reappearance. We learn more about Suzie pre-Everything Changes and her loathing of those around her, the reasons for which are obvious, given that she was shot in the head and later resurrected. The darkness within Suzie drives her to commit murder after murder, and unveil the impact of Torchwood upon the people of Cardiff.
With Cutler and Davidson joining forces with Commander Jackson of the Department, they fight to prevent the shadows consuming Cardiff and stop Suzie once and, possibly, for all.
Being a prequel to Miracle Day, you might expect more references to upcoming events in the series. I did expect the book to end slightly differently, and much more scarily than it did – if you’ve seen Miracle Day, think back to the crushed car after you’ve read this, and you’ll see what I mean. There’s a reference to Colasanto and an appearance by Captain Jack, though he doesn’t play a big part, which gives plenty of room for other characters to be developed and not overshadowed by the larger-than-life time agent.
If there’s one thing that can be said for Long Time Dead, it’s that Pinborough has scored a hat trick, with yet another story full of characters you really begin to care about, especially with the dilemmas that each one faces. She imbues all her characters with such life that you can’t help but turn the page and, where a lesser writer would make the exposition seem dull and forced, she manages to keep the necessary backgrounds or motives of each character as gripping as if they were written for television.
Long Time Dead is yet another strong contribution to the Torchwood books, offering a character-driven tale with just enough death, horror and science fiction to keep fans of the darker side of the fantasy happy.
Torchwood: Long Time Dead is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.