Hardcover: 313 pages
Publisher: Golden Gryphon Press, U.S. (1 Nov 2006)
Category(ies): Horror/Spy Thriller/SF
Bob Howard works for The Laundry, a department of the Secret Operations Executive, that British Government agency responsible for unorthodox non-diplomatic negotiations. It's part of his job to make sure that mavericks don't disturb the delicate balance of peace. No, not that uneasy peace - the Cold War is over - the other one. The one with the Deep Ones. He's got a glamourous (yes, in the real sense of the word) lethal female sidekick from the US side, and he's got to prevent the billionaire Ellis Billington using the refitted Glomar Challenger to raise something from the deep ocean floor.
Yes, this is Spy Thriller (in this case, Bond) meeting Horror (of the HP Lovecraft persuasion). It's carefull crafted to ding every marker of a Fleming Bond novel, self consciously so, with there being internal reasons why. (Reasons some of the protagonists themselves know, recognise and attempt to promote. Billington even has a white Persian cat.) And there are in-jokes, because Bob Howard isn't really a secret agent type, he's merely having to play one - he's a BOFH, (at one point he alleges that his middle names are Oliver Francis ... shame that it's R for Bob), and he's even to be found at one stage wearing a Scary Devil Monastery T-shirt (fame at last, jhnc. Oh, and one of the nastier pieces of work is an evil hencher named Pat McMurray.
This is the second Laundry novel, but not having read the first, although there is a little back story it'd be nice to know, I can say that it works well on its own. Of course, being from autopope, it's enormous fun, and clever too.