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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the Locus Award 2018.

Bob Howard's career in the Laundry, the secret British government agency dedicated to protecting the world from the supernatural, has involved brilliant hacking, ancient magic and combat with creatures of pure evil. 

Now the Laundry's existence has become public, and Bob is being trotted out on TV to answer pointed questions about eleven asylum seekers. What neither Bob nor his managers have foreseen is that their organisation has earned the attention of a horror far more terrifying than any demon: a government looking for public services to privatise. There are things in the Laundry's assets that big business would simply love to get its hands on....

Inch by inch, Bob Howard and his managers are forced to consider the truly unthinkable: a coup against the British government itself.

Previous titles in this series:

The Atrocity Archives

The Jennifer Morgue

The Fuller Memorandum

The Apocalypse Codex

The Rhesus Chart

The Annihilation Score

The Nightmare Stacks

©2017 Charles Stross (P)2017 Little Brown Book Group

Critic Reviews

"Brilliantly disturbing and funny at the same time." (Ben Aaronovitch)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging

A very good entry in stross’s bouquet. If I had to pick a flaw it’s that the ending is a bit abrupt

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cassiterite
  • 09-06-17

Decent story let down by the narrator

Would you listen to The Delirium Brief again? Why?

I've listened to it twice, the second time my heart wasn't in it. The narrator just isn't up to the job.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Bob. He's the hero and principle character.

How could the performance have been better?

Could have been read by someone else. All of the other Laundry Files books that I've listened to were narrated by Gideon Emery. Jack Hawkins sounds like he is reading aloud to himself and a few times he'd changed characters without me noticing. He just doesn't have as many different voices or accents as Emery. I would need to be really desperate to listen to this again, unless I can find a version narrated by Emery.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I hate questions like this. I wasn't watching War Horse, I was listening to an urban fantasy book.

Any additional comments?

A decent story in the Laundry Files line. Nice to see the band back together as well as some old 'friends'. A few strands left over, so it will be interesting to see where Charlie takes us in the next installment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Eugene Oconnell
  • 09-02-17

This drags

A shame. There is far too much waffle about the Civil Service politics of the Laundry. I wanted action like the previous instalments but this was thin on the ground.
Is Mr Stross running out of new ideas? I hope not but the first ¾ of this book was just plain boring

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dylan
  • 07-28-17

Well-paced, good characters, insanity.

Any additional comments?

I was nearing the end of my first reading of Iain Banks’ brilliant The Bridge when I came down with pneumonia. The Bridge is a complex novel, with many layers running together. Pneumonia destroyed my ability to concentrate. I suspended my reading, intending to switch to something simpler, at least until my head was fixed.

I chose Charlie Stross’s brand new The Delirium Brief, the latest in The Laundry Files series.

This was a mistake. That’s not because it’s a bad book—it’s a good book—but because it’s set in a world of brain–eating monsters, and I have pneumonia, which is eating my brain (well, ruining my concentration). It’s also a very depressing book, read in a depressed tone in the audiobook, which did not exactly fit the up–cheery mood I really wanted to feel while recovery from an infection of lung–eating bugs.

The Laundry Files book series is set in Stross’s homage to the Lovecraft universe, with nasty monsters in other dimensions trying to break through to our reality to eat us. I’ve not read Lovecraft, and have no intention of doing so. I’m reading the Stross because the first book in the series, The Atrocity Archives, caught me. He writes solid, well–paced, and often witty prose, and his characters (unlike those in many book series) suffer, grow and develop as the series progresses. They are not unbelievable archetypical heroes, they are ordinary people who can do things, and have to do them.

This book is set immediately after the previous entry in the series, The Nightmare Stacks. It is not suitable as the first Laundry Files book to read: start at the beginning with The Atrocity Archives.

As my brain was being eaten my monsters from, well, not outer space, I had the shocking realisation that the book and series are really about madness. The madness is externalised as bizarre monsters, but it is madness all the same. People familiar with Lovecraft and Stross will probably consider me very stupid for taking this long to work out what’s going on underneath the surface.

There was a particular scene, near the end of the book, that caused this realisation. In it, the hero nearly goes insane as worry and events allow his symbiotic monster of madness from outside time to start pressing in on his sane mind, to squash the sanity and let the madness gain full control. I’ve had that experience, once. In the case of the book, the hero is held sane by a colleague using sergeant major mojo. In my case, I held on by force of will. Stross’s description was close enough to my experience for the realisation of the actual subject of the books to finally click. Like I said, I’m slow.

The madness here belongs to the leading characters, who struggle against it, with some success, and the baddies, who, of course, let the insanity win. Stross peppers his books with his fairly obvious sense of humour, so it’s not surprising, perhaps, that the baddies are a Christian fundamentalist sect with a sexual deviation problem. In this case, that deviation ultimately leads to their genital plumbing being replaced by monsters from outside time. Actually, it’s very well written (if I tried to do the same, it’d turn camp batman), to the extent that I’d strongly recommend this book is not read by virgins: the nightmares could badly screw up the start of their sex life. Well, they would have done mine.

I have no intention of reading Lovecraft. I do not like insanity, and do not particularly like books about insanity: perhaps I’m a coward. I will, though, keep reading The Laundry Files books, despite the depression, because I can’t let go of the characters. They grow as they learn to fight the world’s doom. They are never the same person at the end of the book as they are at the beginning. I believe in them.

I didn’t actually read The Delirium Brief, I listened to the audiobook read by Jack Hawkins. Narration is like writing software: if you do a good job, people don’t notice it’s there. I was absorbed by the story and didn’t notice the performance. That’s a recommendation.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • spandau barry
  • 09-25-17

Welcome back Bob

Another welcome installment of the Laundry Files. This time Bob returns and draws many of the themes/characters together; the story nods at many topical themes with a slight squint which adds to the fun of the narrative.
This was my first time listening to a Laundry Novel, having previously read them, and I may well go back and listen to the earlier books on the strength of this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • dot_stockport
  • 08-16-18

The next installment...

By this stage in the Laundry series, you"d have problems jumping in to this out of sequence. If you like the series so far you'll be very happy with this. The narrator is the same guy who voiced most of the others. He's Ok at accents, poor with women (a shame for a set of books with solid and interesting female characters) and terrible at MATCHING TONE TO TEXT!!! (I whispered).

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jack
  • 01-01-18

incredible story well narrated!

can't wait to see what Stross has in mind next for Bob and the gang.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. A. Manning
  • 08-05-17

Not up to the usual standard

Far too much dry civil service speak and odd pacing with a rather abrupt ending. It's hard to make demonic invasion dull but Stross manages it in many places here.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful