Charles Stross is getting to be my go-to guy when I want something quick and trashy to read, like The Fuller Memorandum. This is the third book set in the Laundry, a super-secret British spy agency, tasked to keep computers from unwittingly summoning the Old Ones. Things are explained enough for the book to stand on its own.
Bob Howard is a midlevel analyst. His wife, Dr. Dominique O’Brien, or Mo, wields a deadly violin. His boss, Angleton, has always been creepy and of dubious age, and here he gets even creepier. One day, his boss goes missing and so does the Fuller Memorandum, which is the key to an Eater of Souls codenamed … Teapot.For about the first half of the book, I had the same problem I did with “Overtime,” that is, I found the whinging about office politics deadly dull. The allcaps codewords and acronyms continually disrupt to the smooth flow of reading. There was also a fair bit of repetitions when awful things would happen to Bob and then he would report them and then the implications, sometimes complemented with another rendition of the awful event, would be discussed. Still, the awful things were cool enough to keep my interest.
The book seems to leave some guns on the mantle. Bob spent so much complaining about the heat (28C in London!) and lack of A/C, I thought it would turn out to be significant. It didn’t. We are told repeatedly that the end of the world will be a couple years early. Not in this book. The opening passage about expecting to meet his god with a shotgun is wonderful, but it didn’t pay off.
On page 180, I finally stopped skimming, when Bob is rousted out of bed by a call to see the Auditors.
The door is open. Jo is waiting for me. One look at her face tells me it’s bad. Angleton warned me: This is where it starts.
Sure does. The remaining 120 pages roar by, filled with blood and guts, cannibals and zombies. It leaves me wishing this story had been a 120 page novella and “Palimpsest” a 300 page novel.