When magic and superpowers emerge in the masses, Wendy Deere is contracted by the government to bag and snag supervillains in Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross' Dead Lies Dreaming: A Laundry Files Novel.
As Wendy hunts down Imp—the cyberpunk head of a band calling themselves “The Lost Boys”— she is dragged into the schemes of louche billionaire Rupert de Montfort Bigge. Rupert has discovered that the sole surviving copy of the long-lost concordance to the one true Necronomicon is up for underground auction in London. He hires Imp’s sister, Eve, to procure it by any means necessary, and in the process, he encounters Wendy Deere.
In a tale of corruption, assassination, thievery, and magic, Wendy Deere must navigate rotting mansions that lead to distant pasts, evil tycoons, corrupt government officials, lethal curses, and her own moral qualms in order to make it out of this chase alive.
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The madcap 10th entry in Stross's Laundry Files series (following The Labyrinth Index), set in an alternate England where magic is a branch of applied mathematics that coexists alongside technology, finds the country under New Management, as the Elder God who now inhabits 10 Downing Street is referred to. Against this backdrop, the Lost Boys, a gang of superpowered transhuman heisters comprising Imp, the Deliverator, Doc Depression, and Game Boy, use their ill-gotten gains to finance a twisted, outer space set movie version of Peter Pan. First opposing, then assisting, them is Wendy Deere, transhuman rent-a-cop for HiveCo Security, who has just been promoted to "thief-taker." When Imp's sister, Evelyn Starkey, hires the Lost Boys to steal the Necronomicon, a concordance of spells, for her billionaire boss, the job takes the gang back in time to the mean streets of Whitechapel in 1888. This is like a gonzo riff on Robert A. Heinlein's Magic, Inc., enhanced by imaginative set pieces and plentiful references to classic SFF. Bullets and jokes fly in equal measure, and even if they don't all find their mark, Stross still hits the bull's-eye with this fresh take on the caper genre.
Better than the opening scene suggests
Perhaps because I spent the weekend before this came bing watching The Boys, I came close to bouncing off this book. Imp & Co were clearly coded as people I should be rooting for, but they came off as D-list supes up to no good and my sympathies were completely with the normies they were robbing. Fortunately, Stross pivoted to a much more evil, and more interesting, character for the next scene.
This is being pitched as a new entry point for the series. I’m not sure it will work as that. There’s a lot that I doubt will make any sense to someone who hasn’t read any of the previous Laundry books.
Dead Lies Dreaming
Good ending but not as much fun as earlier books in the series.