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THIS could have been one of the greatest examples of meta-fiction of all time, reflecting the Melody Malone book seen in the Doctor Who episode The Angels Take Manhattan, complete with unexpected and convention-straining appearances from the Doctor and his companions, hidden messages and an emotional epilogue from the departing Amy Pond.

In fact, it’s more of a prequel to the television episode, and although it’s still a thoroughly entertaining account of Melody Malone, aka River Song, in her secret identity as a private eye in 1930s New York, there’s still a sense of disappointment that it isn’t quite the story one would have expected, even though that would have been a somewhat unusual and non-linear narrative to say the least.

Although on some levels this is obviously a pastiche of the crime noir fiction of writers like Raymond Chandler, there are still hints here of a bigger picture, one where angelic statues move when you’re not looking, and a time-travelling ‘tec is the only person able to see the truth.

Securing Alex Kingston as the reader of the audiobook is a coup which cannot be overlooked, as she succeeds in bringing River’s sass and style to every sentence. It also fills in more detail about how she spends her time when not locked up or helping out the Doctor, and extra information is always welcome about this oh-so enigmatic character.

An admittedly short story, but thanks to writer Justin Richards no less entertaining as a result, it makes a refreshing change from the established range of 11th Doctor audios, and is hopefully not the last time we’ll hear River Song going solo.

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