Book Review: The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross

It’s pretty common knowledge that I love the Lovecraftian Cthulhu Mythos and so, of course, I’d be drawn to the series of books called The Laundry Files by Charles Stross. The Laundry Files are a series of books, novellas, and shorts featuring the trials and tribulations of one Robert “Bob” Howard, a lowly IT professional who just also happens to be something of a demonologist working for Her Royal Majesty’s government by way of a secret organization called The Laundry. The purpose of The Laundry is the safeguarding of the United Kingdom from threats international, domestic, and interdimensional.

To say that I love this series would not be putting it strongly enough. It’s incredibly well-thought out in a stable, sensible way. Magic is essentially a higher form of math, made easier to perform with computers and technology (which is why Bob is where he is, because as a young man he almost, accidentally, summoned a horrible thing from beyond the veil that would’ve leveled an entire town had the Laundry not stepped in and offered him a job he wasn’t allowed to refuse). The Laundry itself feels like it could potentially exist, every last bureaucratic bit of it, and the creatures and plots it struggles against are horrible and awesome.

The Fuller Memorandum revolves around Bob’s boss, a cryptic, skeletal man by the name of Angleton. Not much is known about Angleton except that he’s totally loyal to the Laundry, that he has been with the organization almost since its inception, and that he is a deeply, deeply terrifying man to end up on the wrong side of (in one book an employee tried to take extreme methods to displace Angleton’s position at work; she ended up a potentially-still-alive shrunken head on his desk).

One of the main things I really enjoyed about this book, aside from finally getting a look into who Angleton really is, was the pacing, to be perfectly honest. This book simply flowed well. There weren’t any points where I felt the plot bogged down with needless exposition. At just little over three hundred pages long I was able to stroll easily through the book in about three or four days.

The other reason I really enjoyed this book, but also this series as well, is Bob. Bob’s a great character, a guy who is, at his core, good and trying to do the right thing. He’s smarmy, self-deprecating, competent in a general way, and loves his wife. He’s the type of guy I’d love to get a drink with. One of the great things about Bob is, unlike many other main characters in modern supernatural fiction, he’s had very, very little power creep. Mostly, he’s just gained experience and confidence, two things that would be natural for a person who has managed to survive what he’s gone through.

If you like stories about spies, stories about Lovecraftian horrors, and think the mash-up of the two would be awesome, then pick up The Laundry Files starting with The Atrocity Archives, move on to The Jennifer Morgue, and then The Fuller Memorandum. You won’t be disappointed.

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