Review: Torchwood: The Men Who Sold the World (Miracle Day prequel 3)

by Guy Adams

BBC Books, out now

When some alien tech is hijacked, CIA agent Rex Matheson is sent to track it down…

Coming to the end of this enjoyable, if slight, read from Guy Adams, the first question asked is “Why wasn’t this published with the other prequels?” since it’s being released three weeks after them, and only now episode six of Miracle Day has been seen both sides of the Atlantic. It doesn’t give away anything particular that would have spoiled the story so far: Rex is Rex, Esther is Esther, pretty much as we’d expect them to be given the relationship we saw between the two of them at the start of the series.

The book’s publicity and back jacket hints that this piques Rex’s interest in Torchwood, but the tech’s origin doesn’t come into play during the novel, and the first Rex hears of the institute is in the call from Esther at the start of Miracle Day. In fact, the back cover is misleading in a number of ways: Rex is by no means the “CIA’s golden boy,” as his first appearance makes abundantly clear.

More than either of the other stories, this needs to stand on its own, and, although it doesn’t have the emotional resonance of the other books, it does as a chase thriller with a bit of political intrigue and sci-fi weaponry thrown in.  In fact, the Torchwood-specific elements could easily be removed and this would function as a standalone novel. The book includes some flashbacks to how the Torchwood team captured the alien tech in the first place – the only way that Jack, Gwen or Ianto could appear – and there’s a liberal smattering of Doctor Who references (including a wonderful shout back to the days when Virgin couldn’t name the Daleks in the New Adventures) but none of these is strictly necessary.

Verdict: Unless something gets revealed in the closing three episodes which alter the reader’s perspective, this is a non-essential but diverting read that doesn’t really add to our knowledge of Rex’s character.  6/10

Paul Simpson

Check out our other Torchwood reviews here.

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