Ghost in the Machine

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) #2

by Andy Lane

Boxtree, 2000

"Ghost in the Machine" is the second in the series of original novels to accompany the new BBC version of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), starring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and it does just what you would want such a book to do. Andy Lane has written a novel that remains true to the show, yet gives us a story that goes well beyond the constraints of the TV series.

For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the series, only Jeff Randall can see the ghost of Marty Hopkirk, his partner as private investigators. The other recurring characters are Jeannie, Marty's (former!) fiancée, who is unaware of the ghostly Marty, and Wyvern, Marty's mentor spirit (played by Tom Baker).

"Ghost in the Machine" is an exciting story with an observant prose and rich with ideas. However, in retrospect, the plot has a few flaws. It kicks in very late in the book. Jeff, Marty and Jeannie fail to do any actual detective work and have little effect on the events in the story. And the central mystery is straight out of two Dr Who stories!

There seemed more potential in the book than it's somewhat gruesome and hurried ending, but it would be churlish to complain of a surfeit of themesóbetter a book that you think could have been longer than one bereft of ideas, and Lane does wrap everything up.

The book does feel like the TV show, but tells a story so much broader than the small screen. Lane takes us overseas, up in the air and down in the seas, has pitched battles and a spectacular climax... He can also avoid the problem the TV series had of the rather dodgy acting by Reeves and Mortimer!

Who authors Gareth Roberts and Mark Gatiss have already written scripts for a second season on TV. Hopefully we'll see Andy Lane writing for a third.

Henry Potts, 5 Apr 2001



Originally posted to the Jade Pagoda mailing list.

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