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Stevens began writing the book on 22 January 1996, completing it shortly before his disappearance in April of that year. Using his notes from October 1969 to September 1971, Stevens wrote an exposé detailing his investigations of the Doctor, UNIT, Department C19 and the numerous alien invasions which befell Earth during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
While primarily focussed on these investigations, the book also provides details of Stevens' personal life such as the fact that he was born in New Zealand on 22 November 1945 as the illegitimate son of a wealthy 17-year-old girl and an American GI who died before he was born. His interest in journalism was sparked by the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on his 18th birthday in 1963. After moving to the United Kingdom in 1968, he married Natasha Howarth, the daughter of Lord Howarth, in September 1969. However, their marriage proved to short-lived due to Stevens cheating on her with another woman, also named Natasha.
In October 1969, Stevens began researching the book at the age of 23 when he was working for the Daily Chronicle. Through the paper's crank line, he received a report from an Ashbridge Cottage Hospital porter named Mullins that a man with inhuman blood had been admitted into the hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, Stevens noticed the presence of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, the commander of the British division of UNIT. Several days later, the United Kingdom suffered its worst terrorist attack of the 1970s. Unbeknownst to Stevens, Black Thursday was in actuality a cover story for the attempted Nestene invasion of Earth. These two incidents marked the beginning of Stevens' two year investigation of UNIT, C19 and a series of agent provocateurs known as "the Doctor" who had been involved in numerous unusual incidents over the course of almost thirty years. He believed that these "Doctor" agents were malevolent figures in the employ of C19 and, along with UNIT, were secretly working against the interests of the United Kingdom.
Shortly after Black Thursday, in November 1969, Stevens investigated the plague outbreak which began at the Wenley Moor nuclear research facility and killed approximately 400 people in both the UK and continental Europe, including Frederick Masters, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. In the midst of the crisis, Stevens was provided with the phone number of the facility by a mysterious informant. He briefly spoke to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart but the UNIT commander slammed down the phone when he realising that he was speaking with a journalist. In his "Bad Science" series of articles, Stevens attributed the failures of both the Wenley Moor facility and the subsequent Inferno Project to the Labour Party Prime Minister Harold Wilson. As the collected "Bad Science" articles were published as a book only days before the UK general election in June 1970, they were regarded as instrumental in winning the election for the Conservative Party, led by Edward Heath. However, Stevens himself believed that the role of the book in bringing down the Wilson government was exaggerated.
After seven weeks of research, Stevens was able to identify four distinct "Doctor" agents and included detailed information concerning each of them and their role in the formation of UNIT in an article titled "The UNIT Dossier". By collating information from dozens of disparate sources, he was able to determine that the "Doctor" operatives were involved in the ULTIMA Incident in 1943, the Shangri-La Incident in 1959, the Shoreditch Incident in November 1963, the C-Day fiasco and the contemporaneous Gatwick Incident on 20 July 1966 and the London Event. He believed that the Shoreditch Incident and, in particular, the London Event were crucial to UNIT's foundation, which had been championed by Lethbridge-Stewart. In the course of his investigation, he interviewed many people including Samantha Briggs, Isobel Watkins, Professor J.P. Kettlewell, Petra Williams and Greg Sutton. It was from Watkins that he first learned of the existence of the Doctor but he dismissed her claim that Earth had been invaded by "robot men from outer space." He was also highly sceptical of Sutton's outlandish claim that a green slime from the centre of the Earth had transformed scientists into wolf monsters during the Inferno Project, describing it as sounding like the plot of "a science fiction potboiler."
While he was writing the article, he began to receive threatening letters and phone calls at both his work and his home, the latter coming from a man with a pronounced lisp. In spite of the threats, Stevens did not stop his investigation. The article was due to be published in the Daily Chronicle in February 1970. However, before this could happen, it was pulled due to interference on the part the British government and he was fired by the paper's editor Peter Wise. On the same day, his pregnant wife Natasha left him when she learned of his one-night stand with her namesake. Stevens realised that the woman had been a plant. Although he believed that she was working on behalf of UNIT, she was in fact in the employ of C19, as were those who were threatening him.
After spending much of the following March attempting to get his life back together, Stevens was commissioned by his friend Henry Spencer, the non-fiction editor of a London-based publishing house to write a book exploring what would have become of JFK if he had not been assassinated in Dallas, Texas. He also found employment as a freelance journalist for the magazine Metropolitan. This gave him the financial freedom to continue his investigation into the Doctor and UNIT for another six months. That November, Stevens attended the demonstration of the Keller Process at Stangmoor Prison. It was at the prison that the Doctor saw one of the "Doctor" operatives for the first time. He described this Doctor as "an ageing dandy" with a "hawkish nose," "piercing eyes" and a "lived-in face." He was accompanied by a a small, mousy looking woman with a pleasant face. Over the course of the next several days, Stangmoor Prison was the scene of two prison riots before it was recaptured by UNIT. Stevens noted that, at the time, UNIT was supposed to have been providing security at the World Peace Conference and speculated that the Doctor's presence at the demonstration of the Keller Process could signify that UNIT was involved in mind control experiments.
In December 1970, Stevens met a young homeless woman named Dodo Chaplet, who had been committed to a sychiatric institution called Glasshouse after the events of C-Day due to her outlandish claims to have met one-eyed reptile men and Wild West gunfighters and to have played game with living dolls. Dodo told Stevens that the Director of the Glasshouse had subjected her to cruel mind control experiments and continually questioned her about doctors. She was left with considerable gaps in her memory to the point that she could not even remember her mother. After allowing Dodo to stay at his flat for the night, Stevens quickly grew extremely fond of her and invited her to stay with him on a more permanent basis. They eventually fell in love.
In May 1971, shortly after the broadcast of the disastrous opening of Devil's Hump on the BBC3 series The Passing Parade which resulted in the death of Professor Gilbert Horner, it was announced that a terrorist named Victor Magister had been captured in the nearby village Devil's End. He was charged with Horner's murder as well as causing Black Thursday, the plague outbreak and the failure of the World Peace Conference, among other incidents. Stevens was sceptical that Magister - who was soon dubbed "the Master" by the press as his surname was Latin for "Master" - could have been responsible for all of these events as no one had ever heard of him until his capture was announced on television. Furthermore, he believed that the prejudicial reporting of Magister's alleged crimes during the summer of 1971 meant that it was unlikely that he could receive a fair trial in Britain. He appeared on The Passing Parade with Peter Wise and Malcolm Muggeridge to discuss whether the situation warranted him receiving a trial in camera. While on the programme, he attempted to reveal the existence of UNIT and C19 to the general public but the broadcast was cut off. The government eventually announced that Magister would receive such a trial and Stevens came to believe that the "massive media overkill" had been engineered to ensure that this would occur.
After barely surviving an attempt on his life in July 1971, Stevens was captured by C19 and taken to the Glasshouse. He remained under sedation for approximately three weeks before regaining consciousness and learning that the Director, Magister and his mysterious informant were all one in the same. He told Stevens that he was "usually referred to as the Master...universally." While in the Glasshouse, Stevens met a young Liverpudlian soldier named Francis Cleary, who helped him to escape the facility. Cleary had been subjected to the Master's mind control techniques and was conditioned to save JFK's life. However, Stevens dismissed his reference to saving Kennedy at the time as he was not aware of the existence of time travel.
After escaping, Stevens first checked to see that Dodo was alive and well and was gratified to discover that she was. He then contacted his friend Vincent Mortimer, the producer of The Passing Parade, and convinced him to expose the Glasshouse on live television. However, when he returned to the facility with a camera crew, he found that it had been completely cleared out and that there was no evidence to suggest that anyone had been in it in months. Stevens was completely discredited. This humiliation was compounded by the fact that the government produced the Master, claiming that he had been in custody continuously since his capture. Demoralised, Stevens returned home to discover that Dodo had been murdered. He was arrested and charged with her murder but was soon released when it came apparent that she had been killed while he was appearing on live television. While in police custody, he learned that Dodo had been pregnant at the time of her death.
After seeing a report about the Second World Peace Conference at Auderly House several weeks later, Stevens attempted to enter its grounds clandestinely but was soon attacked by an ape creature. However, the Doctor saved his life. He was taken into UNIT custody and was shown the ape creature's body by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Stevens realised that it was an alien and that all the reports of alien invasion over the course of the previous two years. Furthermore, he came to understand that the Doctor and UNIT were fighting these incursions and were in no way malevolent.
The revelation that he had ruined his life and gotten Dodo killed based on a misconception caused Stevens to contemplate suicide. However, before he could shoot himself, he was contacted by the Doctor, who sympathised with him regarding Dodo's death. Stevens informed the Doctor of Cleary's plan to go back in time and prevent Kennedy's assassination using a metal bracelet which Stevens had taken from him. The Doctor told him that it was a Time Ring and instructed him to travel back in time and prevent the Master's plan from coming to fruition.
In the book's final chapters, which he noted in the prologue "would seem like science fiction" to many of its readers, Stevens described being sent back in time to Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963 and immobilising Cleary before he stop Lee Harvey Oswald from shooting President Kennedy. He learned that the Master had ordered Cleary to wear a Soviet military uniform in order to fool the United States of America into thinking that the Soviet Union was responsible for the attempt on Kennedy's life, thus leading to a nuclear war in which hundreds of millions would die. Looking through the rifle's sights, Stevens saw that there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll and was astonished to discover that it was an older version of himself. Using the Time Ring, Stevens returned to his own time, September 1971, and brought Cleary with him. However, Cleary's mind had been permanently damaged by the Master's mind control experiments.
In the epilogue, which was written in April 1996, Stevens noted that many of the dates had been changed prior to the book's publication. He claimed that he had managed to get his life back together since the early 1970s. After his former father-in-law Lord Howarth's death in 1986, he was able to build a relationship with his son William. He began teaching journalism. His favourite students were Sarah Jane Smith and Ruby Duvall. After spending most of the previous 24 years in a coma with only occasional moments of lucidity, Cleary died in his mother's arms on 5 April 1995 at the age of 46. Stevens kept the Time Ring in his safe deposit book and used it to return to Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963 and kill Kennedy, as his younger self had seen him do almost 25 years earlier in his personal timeline. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
By May 1997, it was believed that Stevens had gone into hiding as he had disappeared more than a year earlier. However, his co-author David Bishop was still living in London at the time. (PROSE: The Dying Days)
Behind the scenes
Who Killed Kennedy was the fictional book-within-a-book contained in full in the Doctor Who novel of the same. Most of the events of the novel can be assumed to be within the fictional book, but the novel certainly contains things that weren't in the fictional book. However, it is difficult to separate the two with any degree of specificity.