Suspected poltergeist activity in a small village outside Liverpool attracts the attention of Tom Crane and Anne Reynolds in this latest audiobook in Big Finish’s The Omega Factor series. It’s a classic setting for the team, and this is a story full of the signature elements that the show’s fans will expect.
The drama of Divinity unfolds in three separate timelines: just after the First World War; in the late 1970s; and in the present day. Events begin as Adam Crane unearths some of his father’s old case files, as he learns of Tom’s trip to investigate tabloid reports of a family menaced by an interfering sprite. Attention then switches to the early inter-War period, to tell the story of war-widow Margaret Grange. Burdened by grief at the loss of her husband, she visits psychics and mediums in the hope of making contact with his spirit.
An occult society
Her cynicism towards the tricksters and charlatans that exploit the bereaved attracts the attention of the enigmatic Abraham Cryer. Beguiled by his tales of an occult society, one that seeks out the truth of life beyond the veil, she becomes his disciple and apprentice. This decision leads the pair to settle in the sleepy environs of Coldad. There Grange begins to train, and events are set in motion that reverberate down the decades.
The investigation that begins fifty years or more later is not one that Tom Crane is particularly keen on. He reluctantly picks up the Coldad case at the insistence of his boss at Department 7, Roy Martindale. Meeting the Wright family, Tom learns of the mysterious phenomena affecting their daughter Gail, while Anne uncovers connections to Cryer and Grange.
Doris V Sutherland’s novel conjures up the world of The Omega Factor very recognisably, and her realisation of the show’s main players is on point. The guest characters of her story are also convincingly sketched, and the shifts in focus between the different time zones are well handled.
All of this drama unfolds at an absorbing pace, that allows an appropriately oppressive atmosphere to pervade proceedings. The Omega Factor handles moments of “intense peril” very well, and there’s certainly the potential here to have hit “the scares” a little harder. The mischievous and creepy activities of the poltergeist do feature at key points of the story. But more time could be spent strengthening the sense of menace and of threat.
The spectre of Edward Drexel features in the story, but he is not a major presence. This means that Divinity does not deliver any major advances in the conspiracy strand of The Omega Factor canon. The story offers the right mix of unexplained spooky goings-on and satisfying hard science. Some things secure a full explanation, while other mysteries remain open to interpretation.
Empathic and fluent
Louise Jameson’s first-rate narration is everything you’d expect: emotionally empathic, fluent and fully committed to every word. This story affords her the chance to vocalise different accents as well as a full range of diverse characters. She does so with predictably impressive results. With no director credited, it seems that Big Finish’s confidence in Jameson’s audiobook talents is such that she was allowed to record at home unsupervised!
With new full-cast Omega Factor stories no longer on the agenda, single-voice audiobooks provide a great platform to extend this range. This is another more than creditable example of that format. There is a notable sense of melancholy and of regret permeating the life stories revealed in Divinity; a downbeat sense of disappointment at personal fates beyond the characters’ control. In fact, that’s something that comes through more strongly here than the idea of a malevolent poltergeist unleashing mayhem and terror.
In an extra feature, Jameson answers questions about the lockdown recording process, her professional and personal experiences during the pandemic, and her views on the paranormal world of The Omega Factor.