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Book review

The Delirium Brief

Laundry Files #8

by Charles Stross

The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross

I’m delighted to report back from the world of Bob Howard and Mo O’Brien that all is not well – indeed, all is going very very badly, verging on world-endingly bad, and it’s pretty much a race to the finish as to which particular variety of soul-sucking creature from a parallel universe is going to do us all in.

In other words, this, the eighth in the Laundry Files sequence from Charles Stross, is another cracking read. Although they’re all set in the same world and are more or less sequential, they are all sufficiently independent that I suspect you could pick this one up cold, and still get a great deal of enjoyment from it. I would still recommend reading the others, though, because (a) they’re very good, and (b) you’ll get a little bit more out of this one, as (for example) you’ll known Bob’s history with PHANGs – the in-series designation for what might otherwise be known as vampires.

The world of the Laundry files is the world of modern 21st century England, with a twist: there is a branch of the civil service responsible for dealing with the occult. Up to about book 6 of the series, this was a very secret organisation. Underfunded, drowning in bureaucracy, and with endless reports to fill in, but still very secret.

However, in the preceding book, The Nightmare Stacks there was a full-scale invasion of Yorkshire by undisguisably occult creatures, with some very serious consequences. So now the dreary world of bad coffee, broken IT, and crippling paperwork which Bob used to inhabit has been brought into the harsh light of day, and is being picked over by the mass media in an entirely believable way (an early chapter deals with Bob’s quizzing by Jeremy Paxman on national TV…). At the same time, the organisation is under external threat from not just the usual occult beings, but the more immediate danger of self-serving politicians, all seeking to cover their arses in the aftermath of what happened in Yorkshire. And then a private jet lands at an airport in England, bringing an entirely new kind of threat…

It’s a great book, with a twisty plot, plenty of wry asides, and some new characters, as well as the return of many old ones. I loved it!