KokkieH Reviews The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery by Justin Richards for the BBC’s Doctor Who

The Angel's Kiss by Justin Richards

On some days, New York is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

This was one of the other days.

Melody Malone, owner and sole employee of the Angel Detective Agency, has an unexpected caller. It’s movie star Rock Railton, and he thinks someone is out to kill him. When he mentions the ‘kiss of the Angel’, she takes the case. Angels are Melody’s business.

At the press party for Railton’s latest movie, studio owner Max Kliener invites Melody to the film set of their next blockbuster. He’s obviously spotted her potential, and Melody is flattered when Kliener asks her to become a star. But the cost of fame, she’ll soon discover, is greater than anyone could possibly imagine.

Will Melody be able to escape Kliener’s dastardly plan – before the Angels take Manhattan? – Online book description

In the revived Doctor Who, Season 7 Episode 5, The Angels Take Manhattan, The Doctor is reading a pulp detective novel titled Melody Malone: Private Detective in Old New York Town by one Melody Malone.  The Doctor and Amy quickly figure out that Melody is in fact River Song and that the book is narrating what is currently happening to them.

The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery (which incidentally has the exact same cover as the other one) is apparently a prequel of sorts, showing what River/Melody is up to just before she encounters Rory in the middle of the road one rainy evening in 1938.

Melody Malone
Hello, Sweetie

The story is narrated in the first person by River Song, who is for some reason working as a private eye in 1930s New York and calling herself Melody Malone.  This is actually the novella’s best feature.  Melody is every bit the irreverent, witty, humorously vain character played by Alex Kingston on Doctor Who.  The writing is simply terrible by any objective standard, but it fits the character perfectly.  Consider these few quotes:

I raised an alluring eyebrow.  Alluringly.

The secret is not just to be stunning, which I find comes rather easily, to be honest.  The tricky thing is getting exactly the right level of stun for the occasion.

Plus it’s always nice to talk to the most beautiful and intelligent woman in the room.  So Giddy would be grateful for the opportunity.

There’s something like this on almost every page as River takes on bad guys armed with lipstick and cleavage, ensuring plenty of giggles.

Weeping Angel
The second-most scary monster to flow from Moffat’s pen. Don’t look in it’s eyes, but don’t blink either.

There’s no character development to speak of and all the characters, including the protagonist, are quite flat.  The plot is fairly simple, though with a pretty macabre twist towards the end.  And if you’re a Doctor Who fan, there’s the ever-present threat of the angels, though they don’t feature as strongly in this tale as in the television episodes (and are less menacing if you don’t actually see them).

At only 80 pages it’s a bit on the short side.  On the other hand, I don’t think I could have taken much more of River’s bits pointing in the right direction.  But it was a fun way to fill an idle couple of hours and I’m sure even people who aren’t fans of Doctor Who will get some laughs out of it.

And the author?

Melody Malone is the owner and sole employee of the Angel Detective Agency in Manhattan.  She is possibly married but lives alone usually, and is older than both her parents.  Sometimes.

Why not visit her website?  Ah – probably because the internet hasn’t been invented yet.  Sorry, Sweetie.

About the Author page in the book

Afraid I can’t tell you very much about Justin Richards.  His name only appears on the copyright page, seeing that Melody is fictional and as such the copyright can’t belong to her…

8 thoughts on “KokkieH Reviews The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery by Justin Richards for the BBC’s Doctor Who

  1. It sounds like there is one main joke for the whole novel, which would drag it down. Good thing it’s short – just long enough to be fun, but not too long to outwear its welcome.


    1. As it is, it’s just the right length. But with the narrative voice a little toned-down and a more complex plot this could work as a full-length novel.


  2. I must confess I’ve never read any of the Dr Who tie-ins, but it’s good to see some lateral ideas being brought up, like exploring side-threads from the TV show. To me that’s what makes Dr Who so good – yes, the science of it is hokey, but anyone who’s got a spaceship that’s bigger on the inside than the outside and can travel anywhere in time and space has got my vote. The whole concept is utterly awesome, and that sense of constant re-invention means it hasn’t gone stale in over fifty years. I guess the BBC got it right way back when…


    1. Aside from the novelisations there are also the radio dramas, various games and two spin-off television series, each with a cult following of their own.

      What I enjoy most is the blend of drama, action and comedy and the truly imaginative characters. Also the fact that the characters are always in flux. Sure, it’s heart-wrenching when a favourite doctor or companion leaves the show, but it prevents the story from becoming boring because by season 10 you can tell what a character is going to do before they do it. Of course, the head writers also constantly change, but let’s not get into that one…


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