Books Read: Charles Stross’ The Fuller Memorandum

Charles Stross
The Fuller Memorandum
Ace, 2010

I’m a big fan of Charlie Stross’ Laundry books. As Geek Cthulhu Mythos British Bureaucracy Spy Thrillers, they hit a lot of my personal pleasure centers, and the latest installment is no exception. Our Network Admin/Computational Demonologist Bob Howard starts off enjoying, for the first time in his career, a competent boss he likes. However, he’s soon sent out to a bit of fieldwork for his ancient, inscrutable “real” boss Angleton, whereupon he promptly bollocks things up, resulting in the death of a bystander and some mandatory leave. Meanwhile, Bob’s wife Mo (with her deadly Erich Zann violin) comes back from a particularly gruesome mission a mental wreck, and that’s before a possessed Russian agent shows up trying to kill them, Angleton disappears, and a top secret document goes missing. And if all that weren’t enough, not only is the clock ticking ever-faster on Nightmare Case Green (i.e., when the Old Ones come down from the stars to eat our brains), but cultists are actually trying to hasten the event.

In short: The usual.

If you liked the previous Laundry novels, you’ll like this one. The plot is compelling, the supernatural elements are darker and more disturbing, and this may have the best ending of any of the laundry novels. (Important Safety Tip: If you’re going to try to sacrifice a Computational Demonologist to powerful, malevolent, otherworldly entity, you better make sure you have your binding spell right…) But the reason The Fuller Memorandum isn’t any better than the The Atrocity Archive and The Jennifer Morgue is that it suffers from flaws not found in those novels. For one thing, Bob acting like an idiot once is OK, but him acting like an idiot again, in exactly the same way, strains credibility given that he’s a pretty smart cookie. For another, if you’ve read “The Concrete Jungle” and “Pimpf,” you’ll figure out who the villain is entirely too easily.

Still, well worth reading and remembering come award time.

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