Created by Steven Moffat
"On some days, New York is one of the most beautiful places
-- the opening of The Angel's Kiss
They create some sci-fi scenario, usually set in some dystopian future and then toss in some dude in a trenchcoat and a fedora, give him some reheated banter to spout and maybe arm him with a Zuchronian Delta Blaster, and voila! you've got a sci-fi/P.I. cross-genre.
Oh, there have been a few successes in the years since Ridley Scott's clever, sharp sci-fi noir back in 1982, but more often the results of such cross-genre pollination have betrayed the often idea-starved writer's clear lack of understanding or even familiarity with the shamus game, beyond all but the very broadest of stereotypes.
And then there's this spin-off of sorts from the BBC's uber-successful, time-shifting Doctor Who franchise, which isn't so much an attempt to merge the genres as it is an attempt to piggyback one on top of the other, and possibly cash in on both.
MELODY MALONE, a 1930s private eye who runs her own Manhattan detective agency, first popped up in the midseason finale of the seventh season, "The Angels Take Manhattan," when The Doctor (Matt Smith in this one) discovers a 1930s detective novel of that title, featuring Melody as the hero, that seemingly parallels exactly what is happening to him and his companions, Amy and Rory. When Rory disappears, the Doctor and Amy must travel back in time to 1938 to rescue him, only to encounter Melody and discover that she is actually River Song, a fellow time traveller the Doctor has encountered before.
All this jumping around in time gets confusing. And I didn't even get to the bit where it's revealed that Amy and Rory are (or will be) Melody's parents.
Never one to miss a merchandizing chance, the BBC grabbed series scribe-for-hire Justin Richards and had him pen an actual book (although the byline credits Melody herself). The Angel's Kiss serves as a sort of prequel to the TV episode -- and to the book, The Angels Take Manhattan, that the Doctor is reading. They released it just weeks after the episode originally aired. Not wanting to miss a bet, the BBC followed it up with an audio version a few months later, narrated by Kingston herself.
The Angel's Kiss, however, is relatively straight-forward and linear -- no time-jumping or shape-shifting here. Hot shot movie star Rock Railton hires brassy, sassy Manhattan gumshoe Melody, because he's worried someone is out to kill him, and mentions "the kiss of the angel." Intrigued (she has a thing about angels), Melody takes the case but is soon approached by a wolfish studio owner, who wants her to make her a star.
Things are not, of course, what they seem. But at least there's not quite so much jumping around in time (this time). And the writer -- and Ms. Kingston, if you're listeneing to the audiobook -- both crack pretty wise.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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