Book Review – The Annihilation Score by Charlie Stross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The pitch is Bob Howard’s exes set up a superhero team to fight crime. The Annihilation Score is the 6th Laundry novel and the second departure from Bob as the narrator. This time we have his wife Mo as our unreliable narrator. She is tasked to set up an arms length body to get ahead of the curve on an outbreak of superheroes. This is a side effect of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, AKA the end of the world as we know it.
As well as working flat-out to deal with the superheroes Mo finds her marriage falling apart. Her possessed violin (AKA Lecter) has a problem with Bob, and he’s not particularly adept at reading the cues either. Mainly though Bob is absent on other business for the duration, although he drops in at a couple of points.
The main parts of the team are Ramona Random (now part transformed to a mermaid and on secondment as a liaison officer from the Deep Ones); Mhari (Bob’s ex from HR and now a vampire); and Jim Grey, a superintendent on loan from the Met Police via ACPO and coincidentally a three sigma superhero known as Officer Friendly. In the background we see a little more of the senior levels of the Laundry, in particular the Senior Auditor, who becomes almost human and is revealed as the previous carrier of the white violin.
Primarily the Annihilation Score expands the background and gives another, albeit unreliable, window into the Laundry and how it works. Mo is taken rapidly down the road to a nervous breakdown, quite deliberately it seems. We also get a window into how the government is not really dealing with the developments of CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, although some of that needs to be taken by looking at what isn’t happening as much as by what is. There is also an interesting twist in the plot, but then you’d expect that if you are a fan of Charlie Stross.
If you have liked the Laundry series already then this is a good solid book worth reading. If you haven’t started then it might not be the best place to start.