Saturday, December 19, 2009

Charles Stross - The Jennifer Morgue

Charles Stross, The Jennifer Morgue, Orbit, 2006.

Spoiler warning.

This book is set in the Laundry series, which started with The Atrocity Archive. Bob Howard, computational demonologist, is sent on another mission to save the human race from the horrors of the deep. He faces a stereotypical bad guy, software billionaire Ellis Billington, and the events take place in exotic locations. His partner on this mission, Ramona, turns out to have some surprising abilities, and their relationship develops some interesting complexities. Meanwhile, Mo has been training, and when she finds out what Bob is doing, she rushes to the rescue.

The story cleverly employs tropes from the James Bond world, and while some of them are obvious, I felt that I would have appreciated the work better had I been more familiar with the Bond books and films. Perhaps I am in a minority in not having watched any of the films (well, perhaps one, a long time ago). The story does work even without having any knowledge of the Bond themes, so readers who share my ignorance need not be put off.

The main twist of the plot was a satisfying surprise, though one of the loose ends resolved in the final chapters had occurred to me. The writing, humour and pacing were good, and the story was dark, exciting and entertaining. I have read several short stories in the Laundry series, and expect there will be further Laundry novels and stories to look forward to in years to come.

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