The Wages of Sin

Roots: McIntee cites Felix Yusupov's books on Rasputin's murder as his main source of information. The description of Rasputin is almost certainly based on Tom Baker's performance in the role in Nicholas and Alexandra. There are references to Doctor Zhivago, Tarzan, Richard Hannay, Marie Curie, C. S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Nunquawuse, the Bible, Sherlock Holmes, Marlon Brando, Napoleon, and "Yankee Doodle Dandy".

Dialogue Triumphs: Kit on the Doctor: "For a man of science, you have some rather odd skills."

Continuity: At Liz's request, the Doctor was aiming to take Jo and Liz to Siberia in June 1908 to witness the Tungska meteor crash when he arrives in St. Petersburg in 1916; he eventually manages to take her there after leaving 1908. The three of them stay at the Astoria hotel in St. Petersburg. He eats buttered toast and marmalade in the hotel. He wears a full-length Ulster whilst in Russia. He again uses the alias Doctor John Smith. The Doctor meets the Tsar and Tsarina here, as well as Rasputin. The Doctor hesitates when given the chance to save the drowning Rasputin, leaving him to history.

The Doctor and Jo visited Liz in Cambridge to invite her along on a test flight in the TARDIS, which she accepted. Liz is currently working on (or at least interested in) meteors and meteorites [a reaction to her time at UNIT?]. To her annoyance, she initially finds herself feeling jealous of Jo, her successor as the Doctor's companion. Liz is more pleased than she expected to see the Doctor again, even though she has absolutely no intention of rejoining UNIT. She finds it harder to accept the TARDIS' dimensional transcendence than Jo does, because Jo simply accepts that it is beyond her understanding whereas she feels compelled to try and understand it. She wears a long fur coat and heavy woollen dress from the TARDIS whilst in Russia. She has made a couple of academic trips to Russia before [at some point since The Devil Goblins from Neptune]. She has little interest in royalty. She has several alcoholic drinks whilst in Russia.

Like Liz, Jo dresses in furs, thick skirts and boots whilst in Russia. She cheerfully admits to Liz that she failed Science 'O' Level (Terror of the Autons). Rasputin briefly reminds her of the Master. She has seen a film about Rasputin and is familiar with the Boney M song. She dons a servant's uniform as a disguise.

The Brigadier's grandfather, who is also called Alistair, worked with Bertie Stopford, Britain's ambassador to Russia, in Military Intelligence just before and during the First World War, up to the Russian Revolution.

Links: This story takes place between The Three Doctors and Carnival of Monsters. Jo recalls being hypnotized (Terror of the Autons) and the Dalek invasion of Earth in the twenty-second century (Day of the Daleks).

Location: Tunguska, Russia, 30th June 1908; St. Petersburg, Russia, December 1916.

Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor claims to be an old friend of Bertie Stopford and a member of the same club in London. He has met Princess Alice on "one or two" occasions. He has also met Peter the Great, whom he tried to dissuade from his obsession with methods of torture.

The Doctor claims to have been one of the first men certified by the Pinkerton's agency.

The Doctor hasn't returned Liz home by the end of the novel, raising the possibility of further travels for the trio.

The Bottom Line: Easily overlooked amongst the vast number of Past Doctor Adventures, The wages of Sin combines McIntee's usual talent for fast-paced thrillers with a well-drawn historical setting and a fascinating character in Rasputin, whom the author portrays as an ageing hell raiser rather than the monster of popular legend. The pairing of Jo and Liz also works very well, nicely contrasting their very different characters, but allowing them to develop a real friendship. All in all, rather charming.

Discontinuity Guide by Paul Clarke
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