Food for thought
Dan Starkey (Strax himself) wrote first story “Dining with Death”. Strax often (unknown to him) provides the humour in the Paternoster Gang, and here it is almost taken to extreme, though works well. Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) gets to be the independent investigator as she explores a murder. The murder impacts a peace treaty between two warring alien races, both of whom have also taken up residence in London. Meanwhile Mme Vastra (Neve McIntosh) hosts a reconvened peace conference involving plenty of food and chances for Strax to suggest Sontaran diplomacy.
It’s highly entertaining and even gives a small (and overdue) glimpse into Vastra’s backstory.
Guy Adams takes the Paternoster Gang out of London to a haunted castle in Scotland for “The Screaming Ceiling”. Self-styled Ghost Finder Thomas Carnacki arrives and makes matters more complicated for our heroes. Carnacki first appeared in short stories by William Hope Hodgson, which Big Finish brought to audio with Dan Starkey in the title role. Here Joe Jameson plays Carnacki and brings plenty of amusement as his narrated story differs somewhat from events.
Guy’s change of story-telling style works well, though adding a major new character squeezed the rest of the Paternoster Gang. Jenny rather suffered in comparison but the story still works well. We have a castle, housekeeper, the Laird and a haunted room. What’s not to like?!
Victorian folklore explored
Gemma Arrowsmith closes the set with “Spring-Heeled Jack”. Jack is part of real Victorian folklore, a strange character who can jump high and breathe fire. This version is far less gritty than other audio versions of the Spring-heeled Jack story but still covers a lot of the same ground. Strax is hilarious and Jenny has plenty to do as she has to combine forces with Gwendoline Platt (Sophie Cotton) of the gutter press to find those kidnapped by Jack. Gemma packs her story with wonderful minor cameos among the mystery and hugely entertaining they are.
This latest Paternoster Gang set is well-rounded and there’s clearly plenty of scope for more. Big Finish has already announced two more sets; if they match this for quality we are in for a treat. There’s also a full disc of behind the scenes material.
Paternoster Gang: Heritage 2 is available from Big Finish on CD and download.