The Doctor and his companion Ace travel back to London during World War II, and end up dodging both Nazi bombs and one of the Doctor's age-old foes. Cody McBride, a transplanted American private eye, is in his office in London when a massive explosion rocks the area. Knowing it was more than just another bomb dropped by the Germans, McBride goes to investigate. He finds a metallic sphere laying in a crater in the ground. He also sees a man in a long coat, holding a briefcase, but before McBride can talk to the man McBride is stopped by Mullen, a policeman who has a hate/hate relationship with McBride. The man McBride saw is a man called Peddler, who owns and runs Peddler Electronics. Back at his office, Peddler is visited by a small man who identifies himself as Mr. Wall. Wall is accompanied by two massive men wearing trenchcoats and hats. Outside the office, Peddler's secretary hears the two men talking, but doesn't know what they are saying. Back at his own office, McBride walks in to find a short, strange man and a young woman hanging out. The man introduces himself as the Doctor, and the young woman as Ace. The Doctor tells McBride that the capsule was alien, and that whatever was inside the capsule when it came crashing to earth was now running around London. Back at Peddler Electronics, Peddler sees something skittering around his office. When he leans down to see what it is, it attacks and kills him. After a night spent in a fallout shelter beneath London, the Doctor realizes that he recognizes the photograph of Peddler at the crash site, and thinks McBride can help them get in to see Peddler. Once they find out Peddler was murdered, the three go to Peddler Electronics and run into Mullen, who is handling the investigation of the death. One of Mullen's policemen finds something in Peddler's hand; the Doctor manages to swipe it from the police and takes it back to McBride's office. While the Doctor works on the thing from Peddler's office, he sends Ace and McBride to dig into Peddler's business and the man's background to try and find if he was hiding anything. While they split up, some huge creature stalks and kills a homeless man in the ruined streets of London. The Doctor realizes that thing from Peddler's office is a homing device of some sort, and turns it on. McBride tracks down one of his criminal contacts named Sharkey, who points them to another man named George Limb. Limb is a former government functionary who turned to a life of semi-crime, collecting and spreading information to anyone who was willing to pay his price. Limb tells them that Peddler is doing secret work for the government, and the crashed sphere is at his factory. At the factory, Ace and McBride are taking pictures of the sphere when Wall's bodyguards come in. They tear off their disguises to reveal the faces of two Cybermen, old foes of the Doctor. Back at McBride's office, a small, robotic creature bursts in. The Cybermen take the sphere and load it into a truck, but not before Ace damages one of them. As the truck, driven by Wall, takes off, Ace jumps into the back, leaving McBride behind at the Peddler factory. McBride is arrested by Major Lazonby, the head of the government's security at Peddler's factory. When the Doctor, who managed to trap the cybermat that attacked him, finds out that McBride had been involved in an incident at Peddler's, he follows their trail to the bar where McBride met Sharkey. Sharkey points him to Limb, and Limb tells the Doctor about the Lurker, the massive thing that has been killing people. The Doctor connects the dots and realizes that the Lurker is a rogue Cyberman, more than likely the one who came down in the sphere. Ace finds herself in a large building, and meets another man, who identifies himself as the caretaker of the building. It is an old sanitation station, shut down once the bombs started falling, but Wall and the Cybermen have turned the pumps back on. Before Ace can puzzle out why, she and the caretaker are set upon by cybermats. Ace makes her escape, but the caretaker dies helping her get out of the building. When she makes it to the surface she finds herself in the bar where she and McBride first met Sharkey, and it's been turned into a war zone. The Doctor left the cybermat from McBride's office at the bar, and Sharky discovered it - only to have it come back to life and draw dozens more cybermats. Sharkey is killed, and Ace rushes out of the bar to draw the cybermats away, jumping onto a London bus at the last minute. She makes her way back to George LImb's house, where the old man lets her in. Upstairs in Limb's house, Ace discovers a locked door and, behind it, the Lurker. Ace manages to stay away from the Lurker, only to be "rescued" by a strange man, who knocks her out and takes her from Limb's house. The Doctor arrives shortly thereafter to find Limb, shaken, and an empty room where the Lurker was held. They find the Lurker, really a Cyberleader, slumped in the room, almost inoperable. The Doctor connects the Cyberleader's head to a model train set in the basement, but doesn't get any clear answers from it. The Doctor takes the Cyberleader's head back to McBride's office, where he is confronted and arrested by Lazonby, and taken back to the Peddler factory where he is reunited with McBride. Mullen manages to get in to the factory and sneaks the Doctor and McBride out, but not until after the Doctor discovers that Peddler was using Cyberman technology to try and build a battlesuit for the British army. Unfortunately, Peddler also used live human subjects and tried to graft Cybertechnology to them, creating monstrous hybrids. The Doctor convinces Mullen that they need to shut the factory down, so, after a quick stop at the TARDIS in order to pick up Ace's stereo and some other equipment, he returns and meets Mullen at the factory. The Doctor and the police raid the factory, where they are almost stopped by Lazonby - until the Doctor shows the Major a partially cyberized human being, that person being Wall. Lazonby agrees to help the policemen, but suddenly, Cybermen punch their way up into the factory, and the raid turns into an all-out battle. As that battle rages, Ace wakes up in a cell, where she speaks to someone through the wall of the cell. The man was an employee of the Le Mur factory, on Jersey Island, before the Germans invaded the island. The man reveals that the factory was run by Dr. Peddler, and that the Germans are interrogating and, in the end, killing all the employees of the factory. Back at Peddler's factory in London, the Doctor, McBride, and Mullen have been turning on all the lights in the factory while trying to dodge Cybermen. The Doctor's plan works - just as a Cyberman is ready to attack McBride, a series of massive explosions rocks the factory. During the war, everyone in London was under light control - they couldn't have any lights on for fear of drawing German bombers. With all the lights on in the factory, German bombers came over and destroyed it, Cybermen included. The Doctor, Mullen, and McBride survive, and the Doctor leaves the others in order to go find Ace on Jersey. He finds a Cyberman tool that had gone around behind the Lurker blowing up the evidence, and he manages to push the right buttons and rewires it to obey his commands. The Doctor arrives on Jersey in the TARDIS and finds Limb waiting for him. Limb gives the Doctor a tour of the facility, including dozens of inert, inoperative Cybermen the Germans were trying to make work - the reason why they went after Peddler and the sphere in London. Limb also reveals something that the Doctor suspected, but didn't know for sure - the Cybermen were time travelers, and their time capsule was still intact, but inoperative, inside the factory. The Doctor uses the reprogrammed cybertechnology to activate and control the Cybermen, turning them against the Germans. Many of the Cybermen are destroyed, but they make a massive dent in the number of German soldiers. Limb tries to activate the Cybermen's time capsule, but ends up getting pulled into a million different time periods at once, and is destroyed. The Doctor rescues Ace from a German tank thanks to the fact that the time capsule leaked time energy, bringing the events in the factory to a virtual standstill. Only the Doctor, a Gallifreyan time traveler, was able to wade through the time energy and save Ace. With the factory, Wall, Limb, and the Cybermen destroyed, the Doctor and Ace journey back into the time vortex aboard the TARDIS.
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Best part of story, including ending:
I enjoyed the book because it pairs two of my favorite things - Doctor Who and history, specifically World War II. Bonus for throwing in Nazis.
Best scene in story:
I liked the part where the Peddler factory in London was destroyed - it showed the Doctor's resourcefulness and also highlights the danger that real Londoners faced during World War II if they showed even a small scrap of light at night.
Opinion about the main character:
The Doctor is too willing to allow Ace to leave with McBride, even though he knows she has been through a great many stick situations with him. When he realizes that McBride has been captured and Ace is on her own, however, the Doctor does express his regret and immediately sets out to find his young companion.