Muggins here survives the explosion because he is wearing a heavy-duty defensive ward around his neck and, in response to Hastings's call, has turned to look at the open doorway where little old Helen with her tightly curled white hair is standing, clutching a tea tray.
This is book three in a series, and reading further on this page without having read the previous books might spoil some of your fun.
Both Bob and Mo come home, each from a mission that has not gone quite as planned. Mo is near a breakdown, and Bob is facing an enquiry.
Then Bob starts digging into old documents about Teapot, and finds himself deeply involved in a plot that might set off CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN too early.
I like how Stross uses real people in his stories; people, and letters from people who actually lived (though they never wrote the letters in the book). Like John F. C. Fuller and Arthur Ransome, in this book, and, for instance, H. P. Lovecraft in Equoid, a novelette that is placed before this book timewise. It gives the books a feeling of realism, if you can talk about realism for a book where the main bad guys have tentacles and live in another (or several other) universe(s). And yes, Ungern von Sternberg is also a real person, as, it seems, was Teapot.
Another point in his favour is, he uses Emacs. Virtual religious wars have been fought between Emacs users and vi users, and we will keep on fighting until the silly vi users realise that Emacs is the One True Editor. Ahem. Sorry about that.
Not living in London, I was not aware that the London Necropolis Railway actually exists. Or rather existed. See, this is what happens when the writer is familiar with the area he writes about. It gives the reader a feeling that this is more real; it helps with immersion. And other people might learn a little about London. If they are willing to risk learning about it from the Laundry series, that is.
As for the story, it is an interesting one. Stross has a way of making me check details in his stories to see if they are real or invented; such as Ungern von Sternberg, and I like that. It gives me another little gem for my brain's collection of completely useless facts. Though 'completely useless' is not entirely fair. From time to time, those useless facts have helped me in quizzes and such.
This is not a nice story, but then, any story based on Lovecraft's mythos would be fairly dark. Still, The Jennifer Morgue was bright and cheerful in comparison. And it has nothing to do with the fact that parts of this book take place in a graveyard.
I especially find the motivation of the bad guys interesting. It does, in a twisted kind of way, make sense. Which is a good thing, in my opinion. If you can understand why the bad guys do what they do, it makes the book more credible. Agreeing with them is another matter entirely, of course.
Most people do not think of themselves as evil. There are exceptions, but most people tend to think of themselves as decent human beings. Some do not care, some admit to what they are, but most people do not go around doing evil things because they want to be evil. They usually have a reason for it. Greed, anger, hatred, lust, a misguided idea that they are doing something good; it can be a lot of things, but they are reasons that one can understand.
I also think we get a better look into the characters' minds. Mainly Bob, of course, since most of the story is told from his point of view, but also Mo, and, to some extent, Angelton. It is an interesting experience.
All in all, this is a very good book.
About the author Charles
Book 1: The Atrocity Archives
Book 2: The Jennifer Morgue
Book 3: The Fuller Memorandum
Book 4: The Apocalypse Codex
Book 5: The Rhesus Chart
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