The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross
I loved this story more than any of the other Laundry Files. But I absolutely hated the way the story was told. The entire premise of the Laundry Files is that Bob Howard is basically writing his memoirs in the moment, and we are reading them after everything has happened. So in this one, he explains, oh, I’m not going to be there for most of the events, so some of this is in first person and some is in third person where other folks have explained to me what has happened. I get the joke, but booooo.
Essentially, Bob is being groomed for upper management in the Laundry — against his best hacker, t-shirt and trainer wearing wishes. So a new upper-upper involves him with two “contract workers” — Persephone Hazard (somewhere between Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment and Ginny Weasley when she’s pissed off) and Johnny McTavish (I still have no idea what the fuck he is.) They’re supposed to infiltrate an evangelistic American cult that seems to be involved with the Elder Gods or specifically the Sleeper Under the Pyramid. By using a bible filled with apocrypha, including The Apocalypse Codex, which instructs followers how to bring forth the seed.
Johnny is kind of all over the place. He’s supposedly Persephone’s muscle, but maybe her partner, but then he’s actually an elder in the ancient cult that originally worshiped the Deep Seven, which I believe ties him to Ramona Random from Jennifer Morgue, but maybe not?
Again, totally on board with a preacher man who creates a cult devoted to bringing back Jesus through sacrifice and forcing people to eat mouth centipedes that control their minds. Because he honestly believes that he’s doing the right thing. That’s what makes it good.
The narrative is fractured and spotty, and not in a particularly captivating way. It even ends with Bob getting knocked out and us not completely knowing the narrative. Except in a “Top Secret” Appendix. That tells us the events that transpired. It also implies Bob’s future. In the grand scheme of things, the Laundry Files are progressing nicely. And it’s still a fascinating story and series. This one was a bit of a hiccup for me though.