Sunday, May 26, 2019

Book Review: The Delirium Brief, by Charles Stross

The Delirium Brief, the latest entry in paperback of author Charles Stross’ long-running Landry Files series, sees everything finally come unglued for our valiant band of heroes.

Now pay attention: if you’re not familiar with the series here’s a quick catch-up. The series’ primary protagonist, Bob Howard, a member of the Laundry, which is a super-secret British spy agency tasked with defending humanity against the Many-Angled Ones and other Things that Go Bump in the Night. That somewhere along the way, Bob has become an Eater of Souls and not quite human anymore is almost quite incidental. But not.

However, for the Laundry and its staff, things have gone very bad.  Not only is the Grand Conjunction upon us, when the Nameless Horrors will seep through the walls of reality and begin to snack on our brains, but its deep cover has also been blown, thanks to a very messy extradimensional invasion of London by an elven host that was ultimately defeated.  Thanks to this and other unseen events that slowly come to fore, the Laundry and its people face perhaps its greatest adversary: privatization. Even worse, Bob is forced to do… public relations. 

That’s all I will say here, except to note that the novel ends on a definite downbeat where certain trade-offs are made. Stross’s writing is stylish and witty, punctuated with sharp satiric barbs that reflect certain ongoing events in the U.S. and in the UK. This seems to be more of a wrap-up novel, as storylines and character arcs from previous novels in the series  – protagonist and antagonist -are brought together and tied up, setting the stage for deeper and more ominous events to come.

I know, strictly speaking, The Delirium Brief and the Laundry Files series aren’t alternate history novels – well, except they have involved the occasional foray into alternate universes and dimensions – it is a series well worth your attention if you haven’t picked it up already. If you like your Lovecraftian horror with dose a of Len Deighton, then these are the books for you. Very satisfying.

What’s Next?
I am continuing to read with interest Clemhorn: Nightfall, the first book in an epic multi-universal empire series by Andrew J. Harvey. I am looking forward to having a review on this book in my next post. 

In the meantime, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.  Thanks.

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