Book Review – Sarah Jane Smith: Buried Secrets

  • Title: Buried Secrets
  • Series: Sarah Jane Smith
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: David Bishop
  • Director: John Ainsworth
  • Characters: Sarah Jane Smith, Josh Townsend, Natalie Redfern, Will
  • Cast: Elisabeth Sladen, Jeremy James, Sadie Miller, Tom Chadbon
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/26/2018

Big Finish’s Sarah Jane Smith audio play Buried Secrets starts off the second year of this excellent audio series. The story is framed by news reports that catch up the listener on what’s going on. Hilda Winters, Sarah’s adversary in the first series, has died in custody after Harris was “shot while trying to escape” earlier – sparing Sarah Jane the need to testify in court. Sarah has retired from journalism and is apparently living off her Aunt Lavinia’s inheritance – though she is also investing money in good causes. Josh is with her in London, while Nat is off in Florance Italy, assisting a group of forensic archaeologists who are investigating the tomb of the Medici Family in San Lorenzo. The project’s first archaeologist has disappeared, and a replacement has just journeyed to Florence.

Sarah says goodbye to Josh who is supposed to be house-sitting for her and rushes off to an evening appointment at a restaurant. Hoping to meet Harry Sullivan, even though he’s been missing for years, Sarah is surprised to meet Will Sullivan, a man who introduces himself as Harry’s half-brother. Sarah and Will get on well, especially when it turns out that one of Sarah’s causes, a scientific research study in Antarctica, is the very same research study that Will is slated to be on for the next thirteen months starting the next day. It’s a surprising coincidence.

Josh shows up at the restaurant, using the excuse of delivering a letter that came by special courier for Sarah. Sarah knows he’s being over-protective and gets annoyed.

However, when the two get back to her house they find the place has been tossed. Sarah puts it down to the rash of burglaries in the area. Sarah reads the letter – it’s from Hilda Winters, a letter from beyond the grave. The letter talks of the secret society, the Acolytes of the Future Orphans and the Book of Tomorrow. The Book was written by an Italian Duke from San Lorenzo and contains very precise prophecies of the future and the End of Days. Hilda warns Sarah she’s being watched and she’s more important than she knows.

Sarah and Josh then contact Nat, to see how she’s doing and find out she’s been held for questioning in the murder of Dr. Beretti – the missing archaeologist – who was found in one of the coffins exhumed from the crypt. Sarah and Josh head to Florence to provide moral support.

In Florence, they meet up with Nat, briefly meet her new boyfriend, Luca, and have dinner. They return to the tombs and crypt, hoping to explore it once the police have gone.

Josh and Sarah head down the ladder and into the tombs, while Natalie, who is in a wheelchair, stays up top. The lights go out while they explore, and Natalie suddenly stops answering Josh’s calls to her. He goes up to check. Meanwhile, with the lights out, Sarah spots light coming from a hidden chamber. She goes inside and finds the room is papered with strange papers – papers similar to those of the legendary Book of Tomorrow but written in English. Sarah is caught by Luca, who insists she is the Herald of the End of Days. The cult, split into two chapters – the white and crimson chapters, had long known that the final Herald had the initials SJS – but the hidden pages reveal that the woman’s name is, “Sarah”. Sarah insists it’s a coincidence – Luca insists she’s the Herald and it is his duty to kill her. Sarah shuts out the lights, hoping she will be able to escape. Shots ring out.

The next scene is the news update, and then Sarah catching up with Josh in hospital. Luca and the second archaeologist, whom Luca had identified as part of the White Chapter of the Future Orphans, while he was a member of the Crimson Chapter, are both dead. Luca had killed the archaeologist earlier, and Josh shot Luca to save Sarah. Sarah was shot, but they were able to save her in the hospital. Natalie, although glad that Sarah is OK, is again upset that her life has been upset because of one of Sarah’s adventures – after all Luca was her boyfriend, and she’s probably lost her job as well.

The play ends with an answering machine message for Sarah. It’s Will, inviting her and Josh to join him in Antarctica at the scientific research station.

This play includes references to two of Elisabeth Sladen’s adventures with the Doctor, “Seeds of Doom”, which starts with her and the Doctor at an Antarctica research station (Sarah, upon learning that Will is a scientist who does research in Antarctica tells him she spent a few days there.) And, “Masque of Mandragora”, set in 15th century San Lorenzo, where Sarah meets Giuliano (soon to be Duke) and makes quite an impression – since he is the Duke who wrote the “Book of Tomorrows” as his journal, unintentionally starting a doomsday cult in the process.

I quite enjoyed this story. It runs a bit short, but that also made for a great listen in the car. As the first story in a new season, it’s a pretty clean break. Buried Secrets uses news radio or TV broadcasts almost like a narrator to catch the reader up on the story so far, so if you haven’t listened to the first season (or first five plays in the series) this is a good place to start. The play also ends with a tease and even a trailer for the next play in the series, Snow Blind.

Recommended.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

To order Buried Secrets on Download only follow the link.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

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