Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Annihilation Score

Charles Stross
Orbit Books

In this this science fiction spy thriller by Hugo Award winning writer Charles Stross, the Laundry - the British secret agency that fights supernatural threats - must team up with the police force, with one unfortunate secret agent caught in the middle.
Playing with danger.
Dr. Mo O'Brien is an intelligence agent at the top secret government agency known as 'the Laundry'. When occult powers threaten the realm, they'll be there to clean up the mess - and deal with the witnesses.
But the Laundry is recovering from a devastating attack and when average citizens all over the country start to develop supernatural powers, the police are called in to help. Mo is appointed as official police liaison, but in between dealing with police bureaucracy, superpowered members of the public and disgruntled politicians, Mo discovers to her horror that she can no longer rely on her marriage, nor on the weapon that has been at her side for eight years of undercover work, the possessed violin known as 'Lecter'.
Also, a mysterious figure known as Dr Freudstein has started sending threatening messages to the police, but who is he and what is he planning?

(Wyrd Britain write-ups of the previous books in this series can be found HERE and HERE)

It's always a good day when I notice that a new Laundry book has appeared whilst I wasn't looking and that's exactly what happened here.

The last time out told of Bob's encounter with a group of vampire bankers that ended with a huge attack on the Laundry's headquarters, the deaths of both a number of the cast and, potentially, Bob's marriage.  This time out he steps away from the centre stage and his long term partner Mo takes her turn in the spotlight.

The book begins immediately after the last one ends with Bob leaving their home following their joint realisation that the bone white violin is out to kill him.  This leaves Mo alone for the briefest of moments before she is called into action in a crowded Trafalgar square which is never a good thing if you're an agent for an ultra secret governmental occult agency and then launched into the cauldron of modern policing and politics as the head of the government's new superhero team

The Laundry books have often had little authorial tricks going on in them.  The first few were pastiches of various such as Ian Fleming or a critique of genre conventions as with the last book's (The Rhesus Chart) examination of the logistics of vampirism.  This book is the latter as Stross casts his eye over both the logistics of superhero legality and modern policing.

The story itself is a fairly plodding affair that never really felt like it got going.  Mo comes across as an unsympathetic character, admittedly she's not at her best for most of the book as she's battling the influence of  Lector but she's just not very likable and her constant bitching about Bob quickly becomes quite tiresome.

In the end though the narrative is resolved in a fairly satisfying manner although you can't help but feel that an organisation as necessarily ruthless as the Laundry would need to be would, could and should have acted with a lot more alacrity and decisiveness against the emerging threat of Professor Freudstein than they did.

'The Annihilation Score' is certainly not the stand out book in this fun series and in fact is perhaps the exact opposite but I'm always happy to dip into this world and I did enjoy it on the whole.

Buy it here -  The Annihilation Score: A Laundry Files novel


  1. There is an even newer one - "The Nightmare Stacks", 2016... I haven't read it yet (or "The Annihiliation Score", for that matter).

    1. hello. yeah, it came out towards the end of June I think. i've not got it yet. my first experience of the series was as an audiobook and i've stuck with them like that ever since.
      i'll have to go and have a look if it's available yet.