The Paper Dolls (1964)
A pacey, well-integrated, but not overly original thriller in a John Wyndham mode, with similarities to The Midwich Cuckoos and the subsequent Village/Children of the Damned films. The plot is pure hokum -- a Nazi WW2 plot to create super-children to take over the world -- but Davies delivers the goods pretty well in his first novel. The characterisation and setting description is efficient, the casual (and occasionally not so casual) sexism and racism is...of it's time. The plot elements are integrated efficiently. What we have here is actual science fiction, albeit the science (genetic engineering creating telepathy and telekinesis) is risible even for its time. The plot culminates with a moment of unusual (for LPD) cosmic grandeur with a frightening vision of Armageddon for the protagonist, as the Earth is drawn towards the sun. This is about as SF as LPD ever gets, for all that most of the novel is firmly set in schools and villages. The school setting at the beginning and end of the book is convincing. The relationship between the protagonist and his fellow teacher is fairly conventional, but they do manage to get engaged and the school is organising a collection for them at the end. The most disappointing aspect (and it is disappointing) is that we never really get to meet Tony -- the evil quad -- properly. There ought to have been a face-to-face showdown, or maybe a depicted confrontation between him and the other three boys. As it is, we see the aftermath not experience it happening. This plus the similarity to The Midwich Cuckoos meant a verdict of 3* rather than 4*.