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Publisher's Summary

The eighth case in Charles Stross' Laundry Files, the Hugo Award-winning series described by Kirkus Reviews as "a weirdly alluring blend of super-spy thriller, deadpan comic fantasy, and Lovecraftian horror".

Bob Howard's career in the Laundry, the secret British government agency dedicated to protecting the world from unspeakable horrors from beyond spacetime, has entailed high combat, brilliant hacking, ancient magic, and combat with indescribably repellent creatures of pure evil. It has also involved a wearying amount of paperwork and office politics, and his expense reports are still a mess.

Now, following the invasion of Yorkshire by the Host of Air and Darkness, the Laundry's existence has become public, and Bob is being trotted out on TV to answer pointed questions about elven asylum seekers. What neither Bob nor his managers have foreseen is that their organization has earned the attention of a horror far more terrifying than any demon: a British government looking for public services to privatize.

There's a lot of potential shareholder value in the Laundry's "knowledge assets". Inch by inch, Bob Howard and his managers are forced to consider the truly unthinkable: a coup against the British government itself.

©2017 Charles Stross (P)2017 Recorded Books

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

Fantastic, frustrating, squamous, and rugose

First, the tl;dr and spoilerless version: Any fan of this series will find this book to be as well-written and consistently-toned as the rest of the books in it. The performance by Gideon Emery is, as usual, great and easy to listen to. Overall, except for the book ending in an appropriate yet frustrating place, leaving the reader champing at the bit for the next, it's definitely worth your time.

The longer, slightly more spoilery version: This latest outing for our humble narrator Bob Howard is fantastic, but somewhat bittersweet. The tone of the storyline and the characters themselves have definitely matured naturally over time. Still, in this book, you can sense things drawing to an asymptote, an ending or new beginning, as there is a cavalcade of older characters and conflicts trotted out to neatly tie their stories into the main overlying thread of "humans at ground zero for fights between beasties beyond our comprehension." I won't sit here and give you a recount of the storyline -- I'm certain others will do that, and who wants the story ruined for them like that before they read it anyway? -- but suffice to say that there are a lot of twisty surprises, old faces, and new powers to keep you hanging on the next words.

Overall, this book sets a bit more brutal of a plot than most before it, but it's appropriate as the stakes get higher and higher. Shippers of Bob and Mo will definitely feel a bit better if the events of The Annihilation Score left them feeling blue (as they did me). The book still gets out its geeky humour, but probably more appropriately as Bob (and presumably the author) drift away from being current with tech, the jargon has lessened over the years, the merciless nerd-splanation that some people have found off-putting has receded. Cheers to the author for coming neatly to rest in this respect, not bothering to re-explain every last detail at every turn, knowing that people reading this book are not likely to have picked up the tale this deep into the series.

I very much enjoyed this book, even though with an hour left I could tell I was going to be angry that the book was ending so soon, with so much left to happen. People who have enjoyed this series would be well-advised to snap this up and listen.

The only thing left to say is something I keep saying to myself over and over: Poor Bob.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

At least this one is about Bob

I gripped a out the last 2 in the series not being about Bob, so at least there's that. The story is good, but it seemed he threw out some of his own story line from previous books to make it happen. I don't remember The Mandate being The Black Pharoh incarnate so when he pulled that out it threw me off badly. It does seem that he is trying to build up to the big climax for the series though.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Weakest entry in the Laundry sequence

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Although i imagine my political world view isn't all that different from Stross' - in The Delirium Brief Stoss's (justifiable) bitterness vis a vis the corporate state, "fake" religions, "stupidity" in all its guises, overwhelmed the plot, the characters, the dialogue, the humor. The Nightmare Stacks - the prior book - was one of my favorites, maybe THE favorite, in a series I've enjoyed immensely so I was doubly disappointed. Snark turned into whining in this case.

Has The Delirium Brief turned you off from other books in this genre?

NO. I'm assuming the Delirium Brief was an exception...I'll listen again to see if I change my mind or return it.

Which character – as performed by Gideon Emery – was your favorite?

I liked Mo, Alex, Cassie...just about everyone except the "eater of souls" whose charm has also been eaten, and who, unfortunately, as the narrator carries..or rather bogs down..the whole book.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

probably..though i would certainly hope that some of the earlier books...maybe starting with "the Jennifer Morgue" would be created instead.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love the narrator

Big fan of this series. Maybe not quite as funny as some in the series but lots of familiar faces and character arcs tied up.This book is maybe heavier on the bureaucracy side and a lot about privatization. But I was satisfied .

Really enjoyed the narrator. Will look for more books narrated by Gideon Emery

1 of 1 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

Surprisingly Good

I stumbled across this book looking for something new and that's what I found. With the understated British humor ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition") this was a refreshing change from the American sci-fi / fantasy books that start out entertaining and just move right into over the top, stupidly absurd humor. Don't get me wrong, I like American sci-fi humor, I just recently came off R.C. Bray's Spec Ops and while Skipper the AI in a beer can was entertaining in his first appearance he was just TSTL in the following book.

I can see going back and getting the prior books in this series. It reminds me a bit of Torchwood (boo hoo, I've lost all my good sci-fi TV series). My only complaint is the ending. I won't insert a spoiler, and maybe I need to read the prior books to get it but WTF was that ending? Gotta get more and see if I missed the point.

Worth the credit even with the ending.

1 of 1 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

Solid, enjoyable, a little cluttered

Another good entry in the Laundry files series, and it's nice to see Bob again. It feels a little cluttered, and a lot of the book seems to be Bob reacting instead of acting or just doing what he is told. Even still, I enjoyed it, and the reader is on point as usual.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

the magic hasn't gone but the fun has

What began as a fun, cheeky take on fantasy, IT and bureaucracy is now a drudge. Much of this book appears to have sat on the shelf for a few years before finding its way into this uninspired issue. Highly self-referential as it repeatedly rehashes previous God Game Rainbow events and even prior chapters in this novel. Lots of characters -- many of which I only dimly remembered (or did not remember at all) -- clutter this story. First two-thirds of the book are more about UK politics than about anything interesting. Ending is unsatisfying. Emery did a fine job with the reading, but he's better with humor in the source material.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The twist

Pay attention to the whole story because of the minor twist turning into something that's going to change the entire tone of the future books to come.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ijw
  • Cochise, AZ, United States
  • 07-12-17

Ripped from July 2017 Headlines

How did Stross know that his book would be released 4 days after the US President agreed to let Russia "help" with cybersecurity?

In this novel the Soul Sucking Evil plots to infiltrate and persuade UK to privatize the activities of the Laundry Service. They are also taking over the US Postal Service which protects Americans from dissemination of evil documents.

Delicious.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Revolting item should be reclassified as horror

So disgusted by the continued appearances of disgusting parasites transmitted, now by rape. Revolting choice, and a lapse by the editor. The series, once clever and funny, is now simply gross and stomach-turning.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful