Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Jennifer Morgue The Jennifer Morgue
by Charles Stross

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

The Jennifer Morgue is the second book in Charles Stross’s series that began with The Atrocity Archives, and continues the story of Bob Hudson field operative and computer support technician for that branch of Her Majesty’s secret service: the occult division a.k.a The Laundry.

In this volume Bob is saved from mind wiping during a routine inter-agency briefing meeting and then soul-linked with a demon-ridden agent from another agency – in the interests of furthering his boss’s secret and very, hidden agenda. All Bob knows is that something is going on and it involves him, a soul eating demon he is psychically linked with and a deep sea recovery plan that violates a very secret treaty.

The narrative is very much H P Lovecraft meets spy thriller a la Ian Fleming and John le Carre (with hints of modern management theory thrown in), and manages to satirise both genres. The humour was deftly done often bordering on the gallows e.g. an atomic bomb was casually referred to in conversation as "a big white one", and never over the top. Our hero Bob was always one step behind the real reveal and forever playing catch up as his understanding of his mission changed; with the consequence that his inherent paranoia was justified – "they" were out to get him.

The Jennifer Morgue comes with a bonus novelette, whereby Bob gains an office assistant (the barbs are thrown at computer gamers and management theory), and an essay on the golden age of spying; both of which are well worth reading. The Jennifer Morgue is an excellent diversion for a rainy day or a transTasman flight, I enjoyed it immensely.

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