Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross

The Jennifer Morgue
Charles Stross


Bob Howard works for the Laundry. Of course, that’s a cover. The Laundry is a group that protects the rest of the world from demonic death and destruction, more or less. Bob used to be a computer programmer, until one of his neat new algorithms nearly summoned a creature that could destroy our dimension. After that, he was kind of forcibly inducted into the Laundry. He’s spent the past few years doing paperwork, attending meetings, and being bored. He asked to be transferred to fieldwork. Big mistake, Bob.

In Germany on an otherwise unremarkable business trip (a meeting with his opposite numbers from other countries, who exchange gossip and trade information) Bob meets Ramona. She looks gorgeous, but that means nothing, since she’s got a class three glamour working. Ramona works for the Black Chamber, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Also, she’s not exactly human. Within an hour, Bob and Ramona have been ‘entangled.’ Now they communicate telepathically and can draw on each other’s power. They’re going to need every advantage they can get, because they’ve got less than a week to save the world.

If you’re not familiar with Charles Stross, (SATURN’S CHILDREN, HALTING STATE, GLASSHOUSE) you’ve missed some fantastic reading. In the Acknowledgements, the author includes a thanks to someone “who valiantly helped [him] MST3K [his] way through the Bond canon.” It’s a perfect setup of what you’ll find in the story. A lot of super-secret-spy stuff, gadgets, characters, and situations, leavened with more than a bit of humor. The occult twist makes it that much more fun. If you’re not a fan of Bond but enjoy paranormals, you’ll still find a lot to enjoy here. The story moves at a very fast pace and I admit to staying up long into the wee hours, reading.

As a bonus, this book also includes the related short story “PIMPF;” a not-to-be-missed Afterword called “The Golden Age Of Spying,” that begins with a section called “The Mary Sue of MI6;” and a fine glossary that would have come in quite handy had I discovered it (or read the Table of Contents) during my reading of the novel. This novel is the second in a series, but I can say that not having read the first book was in no way an impediment to my complete enjoyment of this one. Very highly recommended.

Rating: 9
January 2009
ISBN# 978-0-441-01671-6 (trade paperback)


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