atrocityarchivescharlesst46337_fIt’s always exciting when you find a new author that you think you are really going to enjoy, and extremely gratifying when you turn out to be right, as I have been with Charles Stross. I have read about him for a long time, and been intrigued by reviews of his books, but until now haven’t tried any of his works. And in looking for something different after my failure with Emperor, I decided to throw myself into The Atrocity Archives and I’m so glad I did because it is exactly what I needed!

In the acknowledgements at the beginning of the book Stross refers to three authors who made it possible for him to write the book – HP Lovecraft, Neal Stephenson and Len Deighton, which is a really interesting mix when you stop to think about it. The first two have been referred to on this blog more than once (I think – they are both favourites) and Deighton I know mostly through Michael Caine playing Harry Palmer in the movies but don’t think I have ever read.

So as you may have gleaned this is about spies and codes and Nameless Old Ones as seen through the eyes of Bob Howard who has been conscripted into the organisation known as The Laundry and about his experiences as a field agent. It is almost impossible to explain the plot without giving anything away but it is really enjoyable and if you are a civil servant you will recognise some of the worst traits of government bureaucracy (although obviously exaggerated – I don’t remember any zombie doormen, but you never know, I just might not have been looking in the right places). It appeals to the X-Files-and-Fringe-loving part of me, the bit that finds gibbous and rugose perfectly acceptable adjectives, and accepts whole-heartedly that there are lots of secret basements all over the place harbouring information it is better for us not to know about.

I really, really, enjoyed this and am already hunting out more of his work. And don’t skip the afterword – really interesting stuff there too.