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Bob meets the eldritch horrors of management.,
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This review is from: The Apocalypse Codex (Kindle Edition)Bob Howard is back in the latest installment of his life at the Laundry, Britain's ultra-secret intelligence department dedicated to the protection of the realm against the eldritch horrors that threaten to - nay, will! - penetrate our dimension and start an epoch of insanity and suffering.
But until then bureaucracies got to do what bureaucracies do: hold committee meetings, demand cost accounting reports and drive employees made with obviously senseless rules.
In this outing, after barely surviving the attentions of a human sacrifice cult and his immediate supervisor, Bob is clearly being groomed for management. So, he is sent off to develop his people skills. That assignment is nearly as bad as nearly being sacrificed to an inveterate tech nerd like Bob. However, once at the seminar, he meets Gerald Lockhart, head of "External Affairs," who advises Bob that he will get his first crack at management in the External Affairs department.
One of Stross's conceits in this series is to model each of his books on a different subspecies of the spy genre. In this case, the model seems to be the wealthy cat burglar/secret agent and his/her trusted flunkie. In this case, the jewel thief is Persephone Hazard aka BASHFUL INCENDIARY and her flunky is Johnny MacTavish. Hazard is a first class witch, and MacTavish is collaterally descended from BLUE HADES.
The action takes place in a land that the British mind finds incomprehensible, and which it instinctively feels might be filled with death cults that worship the Elder Gods, i.e., the scary strange land of Middle America.
Bob, Persephone and Johnny follow a typically American televangelist - as imagined by a post-modern, post-Christian Brit - from London to Denver. In Denver, we are treated to trade-craft of the three as they deal with American cults, the possible revival of the Sleeper in the Pyramids and the American Black Chamber, which by itself may be more horrifying than the return of the Elder Gods. We also learn that the Laundry may be just a front for something even more exotic than "computational demonology."
The story is filled with the typical Laundry panoply of spy-craft, witch-craft, Lovecraft, a love/hate relationship with bureaucracy and lots of computational demonology. It is an engaging and entertaining read that is worth the investment of time.