Tom Crane is confounded by a series of bizarre deaths which have baffled the local press.

Having to deal with cases of spontaneous combustion and supposed suicides. Crane is pulled in so many directions that he underestimates the powers he is dealing with…

Big Finish Books

It was exciting news when it was announced that Big Finish were going to begin producing original novels once more. ‘Bernice Summerfield’, ‘Blakes’ 7’ and then ‘The Omega Factor’ were announced as getting the novel treatment and each one has been a treat.

‘Spider’s Web’ was released on the back of the third series of ‘The Omega Factor’. You can read our review of that release here.

The latest novel, ‘Spider’s Web’ is a brilliant example. Written by Iain McLaughlin, ‘Spider’s Web’ looks to the past for its inspiration. While the audio series is a brilliant reimagining of the original series set in the modern day, this book takes us back to the days of the original television series and introduces us to characters we will never meet on audio.

Iain McLaughlin

From the onset, McLaughlin has a clear grasp on the characters both past and present. In particular, Crane is very strongly written, matching his son in the audio series perfectly. His story is set up quickly, which is enjoyable as we don’t have to faff around for a while before the action begins. With these bizarre deaths, McLaughlin has fun in being as morbid as he likes, in a way that maybe the audios couldn’t do. Indeed, some of the ways the characters bite the dust are a little disturbing!

One of the most important things about the original TV series was the budding romance between the leads: Tom Crane and Anne Reynolds. McLaughlin picks up on this and incorporates this into his prose. The way the characters interact with each other is spot on. But somehow it gets a little overdone. McLaughlin has stated that this book fits into the middle of the series. But some scenes between Tom and Anne can cause the story to drag.

The Omega Factor

McLaughlin also proves he has a good grip on elements that made the original television so popular. Children with unfathomable psychic powers, unexplained death and destruction and an emotional centrepiece which saves the day. Despite being first time dipping his toes into ‘The Omega Factor’, McLaughlin proves he has what it takes to craft a tense but deeply engrossing story. Certainly the longer format of a novel helps this story stand out as it was likely too intricate for a one-hour audio.

Brilliant Characters

McLaughlin delight in the way he handles Crane, as he brings the character to life almost effortlessly. He blends Cranes’ personal relationships and moral codes brilliantly and we get to see some of what goes on in his head when it comes to his work as a journalist and an investigator for Department 7. Where McLaughlin really shines with the character work is when he introduces new characters, particularly the main villain.

The Audiobook

The audiobook, like the novel, is excellent as well. Directed by Neil Gardner and read by Louise Jameson, who once again proves her mettle as a narrator. Her talents are on display all throughout the hefty six-hour runtime. She pulls a real range of voices and her delivery manages to sell several different emotions and scenes. The story was already a strong one but the narration from Jameson really knocks it out of the park and elevates the release.

Overall

As the first book for ‘The Omega Factor’ range at Big Finish, ‘Spider’s Web’, is a success! The story is interesting and engaging. McLaughlin proves he can craft a tale full of intrigue and horror that pops off the page. It is deeply disturbing and the look at the relationship between Anne and Tom is handled well. This is a great book and a great continuation of ‘The Omega Factor’ range.

‘The Omega Factor: Spider’s Web’ is available to buy now from the Big Finish website. It can be purchased in physical book, eBook and audiobook formats.

Synopsis

When a series of mysterious deaths confound the local press, Tom feels compelled to investigate – despite explicit instructions from his superiors at Department 7 to stay well away.  Perhaps his instincts have been clouded by his growing feelings for his colleague, Anne Reynolds, or his dislike for their boss, Roy Martindale, but as events start to spiral out of control, Tom realises he has seriously underestimated the powers that he is dealing with…

Produced by David Richardson

Written By: Iain McLaughlin
Directed By: Neil Gardner

Cast

Read by Louise Jameson

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