The Doctor and his companion, Clara, end up in the middle of a mystery in 1963. The day after President John F. Kennedy died at the hands of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, the Doctor's TARDIS takes the Time Lord and his companion, Clara Oswald, into the heart of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Soon, the Doctor and Clara become embroiled in a mystery – random objects such as flowers, coffee stains, and raindrops begin to look like familiar faces to different people, including journalist Mae Callon and FBI Special Agent Warren Skeets. Only the faces are not just illusions – they begin to talk, insult, and scream at people. The Doctor quickly puts the faces down to alien influence and sets out to find out who is affecting the people of Dallas. He discovers the Shroud, a malevolent force that infects humans and feeds on their grief, first as a face and voice drawn from the victim's own psyche, then in physical form as a woman wrapped in blue robes. With Clara, Warren, and Mae in tow, the Doctor sets out to an alien world in search of the alien's previous victims, only to discover a nearly barren world, greedy, ragged humans, and a cadre of benevolent clowns. Once the Doctor discovers the nature of his foe, the group, including a clown car full of circus performers, return to Dallas in order to stop the threat once and for all. They find the people of Dallas have fallen to the alien by the thousands, each one walking hand-in-hand with a Shroud, slowly sinking into despair and, eventually, death. With the help of the clowns, his new friends Mae and Warren, Clara, and a group of unaffected children, the Doctor ends the threat to Earth and disposes of the Shroud in an ingenious, very clever way.
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Best part of story, including ending:
The book reads like an over-long television script and, despite the potential of the characters, comes off hollow and unfulfilling.
Best scene in story:
This book finally solves the mystery of clown cars: they are based on Time Lord technology and, therefore, are bigger on the inside. Big enough to fit a hundred clowns, the Doctor, Clara, Warren, Mae, and boxes upon boxes of performing props.
Opinion about the main character:
Like his television counterpart, the literary Doctor stumbles his way through the mystery before coming up with an ingenious, and timely, solution to the problem.