Britain has a Secret Service called The Laundry. Computational demonologist Bob Howard is on the fast track for promotion after proving himself in the field by saving us (humanity, British humans for sure) from dangerous Lovecraftian horrors. This time he’s sent to investigate a miracle-working American televangelist who is suspiciously interested in the Prime Minister.
The Apocalypse Codex is the fourth book in this strong series and one I’ve been waiting to read since finishing The Fuller Memorandum two years ago (my only negative about the series is its irregular releases). As with earlier books Stross isn’t sticking to an episodic formula. This time we get to see Bob taking on a field management role and follow him as his outside contractors look deeper into the Pastor and his Golden Promise Ministries. Shifting focus away from Bob is a clever move by Stross as it a allows a few things happen; he ups the stakes; we see Bob under different pressures; and he gets to look at belief and how extremely it can be twisted. I don’t think we’d get to see things quite them same if we were glued to just Bob’s point of view.
Thinking about it we get to see some real team work between Persephone and Jonny, which is a different dynamic than Bob and his now wife, Mo. I did miss some of the more banterous elements between Bob and his old boss (new role new boss) and I wish Mo was in it more. But I’m realistic that the story didn’t allow it.
I do have a little niggle with the ending; it’s hard to save the world convincingly. It has a sort of double ending that seems to pull the first punch to allow the other.
As we move towards CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (read the end of the world Lovecraft-style) the series feels darker. I really enjoyed The Apocalypse Codex, I devoured it on a trans-atlantic flight, so it’s not a bad book by any means. Charlie Stross has created a great team of characters and world for them to be in that works really well but this book feels like an introduction to sometime bigger. It didn’t quite seem get the mix quite right compared to the earlier books. I think I wanted more Bob if I’m honest. A lot of the time he’s on the sidelines, which doesn’t do much to his mood. I’m hoping that next book releases him back into seeing more action.