I am hard-pressed to imagine any fan of the series who isn't anxiously awaiting the fallout of the last book! That fallout is here, and it threatens to be far worse than I had imagined.
The Laundry has finally come to the attention of the British political establishment. They start the book amidst great uncertainty, with The Powers That Be horrified to discover a completely overlooked security agency engaged in international special ops with no oversight, and so careless that they can't stop a surprise alfar invasion without five plane crashes. The politicians become much more concerned with managing optics than with managing OPERA CAPE. So far so good. We see Bob, of all people, drafted into emergency damage control. We see Mahogany Row scrambling to implement their burn-before-reading emergency legal contingency plan. But on page thirty-nine we see the ominous return of a figure I was not expecting, who promises to make the political struggle for control of the Laundry a desperate affair indeed.
In the face of an existential threat not just to the Laundry but to all of Britain, how far are they prepared to go? In many ways, this book reminds me of Jim Butcher's Changes, in which the protagonist is placed in a desperate situation that requires more and more compromises that would have once been unthinkable.
We knew that the Laundry was determined to not go gentle into that good Case Nightmare Green, but here we see how ungentle things are becoming.
This isn't just a fun (if horrifying) story; it is also fun to read. Stross retains his full brilliance not just at plot, but also at the sentence and paragraph mechanics of writing, choosing terms and witticisms that fit the tone perfectly. I rarely need kindle's "look up the meaning of this word" feature, but I did here, and it was always a spot-on choice. I knew my brother will be reading my copy right behind me, so I suppressed the urge to read him the occasional extra-gripping paragraph. I couldn't stop myself from leaving the occasional note, usually "Eep!"
He also does a wonderful job of cutting away at key moments to show the broader consequences of what's going on, or to present an apparent non sequitur that turns out to be crucial to the plot.
When does the next one come out?