“Vampires have lost their bite!” It’s a common refrain in genre circles, often from horror fans grumpy that teenage girls have stolen their toys and aren’t playing with them properly , but it is true that writers out to tackle bloodsuckers need a distinctive approach to make them stand out from the crowd. Charles Stross has never been short of attention-grabbing approaches, and the latest instalment in his Laundry Files series gives vampirism an entertaining and satirical twist.
Once again, we’re following Bob Howard, computer programmer and employee of the Laundry, an obscure off-shoot of the British Intelligence services that protects the public from otherworldly dangers. In this case, the trouble starts when a group of investment bankers unexpectedly transform into vamps. When Bob tries to take them out of commission, he finds himself caught in a series of increasingly complex plots involving vampire-hunters, soul-eaters, and excessive bureaucracy…
Stross has pulled off yet another fast-paced blend of espionage thrills, mundane office comedy and Lovecraftian horror, throwing in so many ideas per page that it may well leave your head spinning. There are a couple of early points where the tone pitches a little too far towards comedy, but otherwise this is yet another ferociously enjoyable romp from a writer who’s showing no signs of slowing down or losing his touch.
Saxon Bullock twitter.com/saxonb
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