Book Review: The Delirium Brief

The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross, The Laundry Files #8

Bob Howard’s career in the Laundry, the secret British government agency dedicated to protecting the world from unspeakable horrors from beyond spacetime, has entailed high combat, brilliant hacking, ancient magic, and combat with indescribably repellent creatures of pure evil. It has also involved a wearying amount of paperwork and office politics, and his expense reports are still a mess.

Now, following the invasion of Yorkshire by the Host of Air and Darkness, the Laundry’s existence has become public, and Bob is being trotted out on TV to answer pointed questions about elven asylum seekers. What neither Bob nor his managers have foreseen is that their organization has earned the attention of a horror far more terrifying than any demon: a British government looking for public services to privatize. There’s a lot of potential shareholder value in the Laundry’s “knowledge assets.”

Inch by inch, Bob Howard and his managers are forced to consider the truly unthinkable: a coup against the British government itself.

My first confession. This is the first Laundry Files book that I have read. Second confession. I loved it. The Laundry Files is a long running series by Charles Stross an action packed, secret agent, urban fantasy inspired story. I am a big fan of urban fantasy and the secret agency theme is the cherry on top. It can always be a challenge for a reader to jump into the fray with a book late into the series. The Delirium Brief however is a book that does allow the reader to jump into the series. A good access point into The Laundry files. 

In the last book, there were some horrible events that eventually led up to the destruction of Yorkshire and the uncovering of the Laundry to the world. So the supernatural crime fighters are no longer truly secret ops. Well how best to get some positive news out in the world? Get Bob to spread some love of the Laundry on national TV. However this is just the start as Bob's appearance on TV also have a lot of consequences and before the Laundry knows it they are again up in heads over heels in another international case of the supernatural... 

As I mentioned The Delirium Brief is an approachable book in the series because of the TV appearance of Bob, by this Charles Stross gives some insightful information about some dealings that have happened in the earlier books of the series. For example the destruction in the last book, his relationship with Mo, his own status within the Laundry. There is a good flow in the first couple of pages where this all is explained. By having Bob and some other character just talking casually about this makes it feel normal and not forced to receive the information. 

When you look into Urban Fantasy there are mainly two big directions, the funny UF and the more macabre and dark UF. For my The Delirium Brief was a delightful mixture of both. In some of the conversations there are some nice snide remarks and funny comments given but you also feel the seriousness of the situation at hand. There are also some scenes that are pretty gruesome and graphic, for my taste, like the scene in the car. Made me shiver a bit. This combination makes it a book that reads away pretty fast and draws you in to the fullest. 

Though I have only received a bit of the information on the characters of the series, I can say that I liked them a lot. I loved Bob Howard. The way that Charles Stross portrays him is just excellent. Bob has a particular charm about him furthermore he is calm, reliable and yes he doesn't know the answer to everything in the world. And he is the Eater of Souls. How cool. Besides Bob there are plenty of other characters to enjoy. Take Mo for example, Bob's (ex-)wife, there is some great chemistry between them. Some other characters to throughly enjoy are Alex and Cassie. Each one of the characters that Charles Stross creates has something unique going on for them and that is what makes them so interesting. 

Hands down The Delirium Brief is a great ride of a story. A hint of the macabre, cthulhu inspired and a nice dose of humor as well. The Delirium Brief was for me also a nice start into the ongoing Laundry File series. Though when I get some time I think I will need to reread the first seven books. 


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