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The Jennifer Morgue (A Laundry Files Novel) Mass Market Paperback – December 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-San Francisco Chronicle
"One of the most enjoyable novels of the year... Stross steps carefully through all of the archetypes of a classic Bond adventure without ever becoming predictable. The resolution is as perfect as it is unexpected."
-Jonathan Strahan, editor of the annual Best Short Novels anthology series
"Some writers play with archetypes. In The Jennifer Morgue, Charlie Stross makes them sing, dance, and do the dishes for him."
-S. M. Stirling, national bestselling author of The Scourge of God
"The Jennifer Morgue is Stross's most entertaining novel to date...Astonishing."
"Alternately chilling and hilarious."
Top Customer Reviews
I'd encourage Stross to drop everything else and devote all of his time to writing sequels in this series, except there's nothing else that he writes that I'd be willing to give up. Still, none of his other work manages to be quite this much fun.
As another reviewer has indicated, to get full appreciation of every little nuance, you need to be an old school UNIX geek, preferably with a familiarity with the Internet that stretches back a decade or two, who still yearns for the days when USENET ruled, and before The Eternal September began.
Not meeting all these criteria doesn't mean you won't find this hugely enjoyable, but the more of them you meet, the more you'll enjoy the book. Having known Charlie since before he'd had anything published and used to hang out in some of the seedier USENET groups, I think I fall fairly firmly into the target audience, and even I missed one or two of the cleverer references first time round. However, I read the book cover to cover in a single sitting and enjoyed every page. Multiple re-reads are a must, the cover's as superb a homage to the book's influences as the story itself, and the story itself leaves an impressive number of openings for more Bob Howards books, from direct tie-ins to the implications of GREEN NIGHTMARE, which Charlie seems to have put in place specifically to give him a way to shut down the Bob Howard universe completely should he ever tire of writing about the character.
Personally, I hope he doesn't tire of writing about Bob for a long, long time. Haven't enjoyed a book so much in years. In fact, although it's a very different sort of book, the last thing I read that established a permanent niche for itself in my mind so quickly was Pratchett/Gaiman's Good Omens in the early 90s. I'm picky about what I read, and I place these two books in a separate little league, all of their own.
This novel provides one blisteringly hot answer to those readers who complain that there's not much new or fresh in SciFi. I say you're looking for authors on the wrong side of the pond. Some of the best SF to be found, these days, is coming from Britain (Scotland, in Stross' case).
I love Stross's straight science fiction, and I'm a huge fan of both Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos and Broccoli's Bond Mythos. From a marketing standpoint I'm the kind of reader that should have been going ga-ga over "The Jennifer Morgue", but the story was a disappointment.
I think the book's biggest flaw is it's schizophrenic nature. Roughly 75% of the text is a gritty, contemporary take on battling the sanity-blasting horrors of the Mythos, grounded in a rigorously thought out world where magic works. The other 25% is a funny, over the top romp that revels in the sheer absurdity of the tropes it's embracing. The problem is the dissonance between the two perspectives. Every time I started enjoying one viewpoint the other would intrude into the narrative, bringing any momentum to a screeching halt. There are a few scenes where the juxtaposition works, with the comedy reinforcing the drama and vice versa, but they're unfortunately few and far between.
"The Jennifer Morgue" is a good book, and worth a read, but it's split personality ultimately keeps it from being great. I really wish Amazon had half stars, since 3 stars makes it look mediocre, and it isn't, but it doesn't quite rate 4 stars.
If you do give it a try I think an interesting follow-up would be any of Nick Pollatta's "Bureau 13" novels. They have a similar set-up to Stross's "Laundry" universe, blending espionage adventure with monster hunting, but where Stross applies the wacky comedy in measured doses Pollatta sprays it on with a firehose.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Too much James Bond, not enough eldritch abominations from parallel universes. Has some memorable moments, though.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I liked this series but I started to grow tired of it after a while. I did slog through until the end though. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dan Johnson
Lighter on the satire, heavier on the adventure, still a fun ride.
If you read the first book in this series, then honestly this book is probably better written than... Read more
All the usual Stross hallmarks, but this time with the added bonus of being a wonderful (and direct) tribute to the James Bond films and novels.Published 4 months ago by Pyre
A great continuation of the Laundry Files. Somehow, Stross writes a spy spoof, a horror story, and a love story all at the same time. Brilliant!Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer