Review: The Jennifer Morgue

I first began reading Stross when a friend literally jammed a copy of Halting State into my hands and told me not to return it until I was done. Halting State was great stuff, and I liked the sequel at least as well.  I recently read one of his Laundry Files short stories, and though I liked it, I wasn’t blown away. I decided to give the Laundry another chance with The Jennifer Morgue.

This time I was blown away.

First the book is just plain fun to read.  There are lots of funny and exciting bits for everyone.  Then there’s all the techie and sci-fi in-references that seem like they’re just for me, but clearly reach a bunch of folks.  If that was all there is, it’s all done so well it would be worth reading.

But second, this book is a perfect critique and deconstruction of the James Bond series of novels, movies, etc. The Bond archetype and exploiting it is a plot point – which is already cool – but the extent to which Stross has thought about and worked through this deconstruction is a lot of fun.  There’s more to it than the characters seem to notice, and catching those points as they go by – as they go by in this witty thriller with a sense of humor – only enhances the fun.

But then the head of that thriller bites into its own tail and becomes an exemplar of the same genre it’s deconstructing while continuing the deconstruction and staying fun.  This is clearly the best thing ever.  And I won’t even mention the gender reversals.

Overall this is a fun thinking man’s thriller told with good humor and heart.

Strongly Recommended.

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