Bob Howard used to fix computers for the Laundry - the branch of the British Secret Service that deals with otherworldly threats - but those days are over. He's not only been promoted to active service but actually survived missions against cultists, enemy spies and tentacled horrors from other dimensions. Willingly or not, he's on his way up in this dangerous organisation.
When a televangelist with connections to 10 Downing Street seems able to work miracles, the Laundry takes an interest. But an agency that answers to the Prime Minister can't spy on him themselves, and Bob's shadowy superiors come up with a compromise - they hire 'freelancers', with Bob in charge.
British citizens who discover the occult are either forcibly recruited by the Laundry or disposed of, and Bob's never heard of freelancers before. Officially they don't exist. Anyone who's big and bad enough to remain independent is going to be hard to handle, and Bob's not too sure that the one-week 'people management' course he was sent on in Milton Keynes is going to be enough . . .
The fourth novel (after 2010's The Fuller Memorandum) in Stross's series about the Laundry, a British mystical intelligence agency, continues its fun blend of Lovecraftian horror, espionage, and office satire. Everyman geek Bob Howard has been promoted to the Laundry's Externalities department, an obscure branch dealing with outside contractors. His boss, Lockhart, assigns him to manage Persephone Hazard and Johnny McTavish, two mystically talented field agents investigating suddenly powerful U.S. evangelist Ray Schiller. Complications arise ranging from conflicts with U.S. spy agencies, extradimensional parasites, a Bible with some disturbing additional chapters, and the requisite zombies. Stross augments his style, expanding the narrative voice beyond Bob's own while remaining true to earlier works in the series. Some fans might miss Bob's wife, Mo (largely offscreen after the book's first third), but the new characters and setting allow Stross additional opportunities for political and technological snark in the midst of this solid spy/horror story.
The Apocalypse Codex
This book is a continuation of this series by Stross. As with the others, the book flows quite well and takes our hero, Bob to the next level in the organisation with greater responsibilities even though he doesn't quite realize he's been promoted. As usual he somehow manages to get out of sticky situations by virtue of good luck rather than good management. A very good read that climaxes quite nicely. Can't wait for the next episode.