Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Jennifer Morgue, by Charles Stross

Charles Stross continues the adventures of Bob Howard (The Atrocity Archives) with The Jennifer Morgue. Bob Howard is an agent of The Laundry, a deeply secret British intelligence agency
which is focused on saving the world from the supernatural. Bob Howard is not your average agent, however. He is no James Bond. Rather, he is a computer hacker type guy who just has happened to stumble on to a skill set which has involved him in demonology.

The Laundry has set Howard up with an agent from the American Black Chamber (or perhaps it is the other way around) to stop billionaire Ellis Billington from raising something from the Pacific Ocean and in turn piss off at least one of the supernatural species inhabiting our planet which are much older and more powerful than we are and allow humanity to exist mostly because we have not inconvenienced them.

Where The Atrocity Archives was something of a combination of H.P. Lovecraft, Len Deighton, and perhaps Neal Stephenson, The Jennifer Morgue goes in a different direction. The Jennifer Morgue still takes the possibility of Lovecraftian creatures and introduces a send up of Ian Fleming's Bond novels. This is a Bond style adventure with good humor, high adventure, and clever, clever writing.

Stross has shown growth from The Atrocity Archives to The Jennifer Morgue and shows once again that this style of writing and the Bob Howard novels are very much in his wheelhouse and are shining examples of the talent and gift of Charles Stross. This is very original fantasy fiction which pays homage to the spy novels of yesteryear and yet takes it into an entirely new direction.

The hardcover also contains another Bob Howard story: "Pimpf" which deals with video games and the Laundry bureaucracy. "Pimpf" is decent enough, but lacks the heft of The Jennifer Morgue.

The only question left at the end of The Jennifer Morgue is probably what readers of Fleming's Bond or even viewers of the Bond series once asked: When will Bob Howard return?

And who will Stross send up in his next outing? LeCarre? Clancy? It doesn't matter. I trust that Stross will deliver once again.

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