Review of 'The Jennifer Morgue'

The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross
2nd book in the 'The Laundry Files' series

jennifer_morgue.jpg Bob Howard works for the, literally, mysterious “Laundry” a secret British occult intelligence organisation. As with all other government agencies the bureaucracy is horrendous and to top it all off he has been tasked by his boss Angleton to investigate the tycoon Ellis Billington who is looking for the “jennifer Morgue”, a sinister artefact on the bottom of the ocean that could very well bring an end to the world as we know it. Entangled with Ramon, a “Black Chamber” operative who has a preoccupation with killing men as they are having sex with her, Bob is sent to Saint Martin with little idea what he will do when he gets there though others certainly do…

In the short story “Bimpf” that follows the text of “Jennifer Morgue” Bob is forced to take on Andy, an intern who very quickly gets into a lot of trouble. In the “Afterword” Stross delves into the mythos of James Bond.

Another fun romp in the Laundry. As with the initial collection of stories The Atrocity Archives Stross leads us on a strange journey in this weird yet quite familiar world. In this first novel we are really given a chance to get to know Bob, the cynical government employee, and sympathise with the impossible situation he finds himself in. Some of the visceral details in the story are quite a shock but have their place and help give a sense of doom to everything.

Stross' tongue-in-cheek storytelling makes for a fun and enjoyable read without being too heavy handed. The “James Bond” nature of the story is acknowledged and actually a significant part of the plot. I did, however, find the middle portion of the book a bit slow going. The finale does seem a bit of an anti-climax with things tidied up perhaps a bit too easily. I have to say that when it comes the quite unpredictable action is fast and furious.

An easy, interesting, read with a fair amount of jargon bandied about but thankfully not essential to remember. Who knew that the lives of government employees could be so much fun to read about yet still have to fill out so much paperwork?

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2017-11-04

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publication Date: 2006

ISBN: 9781841495705

Other reviewed books in the 'The Laundry Files' series:

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