My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've already decided to like Bob Howard, and I get the cleverness of mocking up some evangelicals with a scarier God than any of them suspect, but this particular drama was a great deal more earthbound and yes, less mindbendingly frightening. I keep imagining Bob Howard being played in a movie by Simon Pegg and then the whole matter seems settled.
The book seemed to cover a lot of ground, background that is, with this or that describing what happened to Bob in the prior books. Too many times, I hear 'all Hell breaks loose' and not enough of 'gibbering horror'. There's just not enough crazy going on in this one. And I hate to say it, but the stakes haven't been raised high enough here. Bob is not getting his head bloodied quite enough, he's not frightened enough of the Laundry bureacracy, and the bad guys in this episode are basically little more than Christian zombies. Sorry but without the actual Sleeper possessing anyone, the Case Nightmare Green seems like just another WMD scenarios.
I just can't help but think that Stross is wanting Howard to live long and prosper like Harry Dresden kicking him upstairs at the Laundry, but something ugly is going to have to happen to people close to him or the next episode is not going to have the emotional weight. More creatures! More horrors! More debilitating pants-shitting mishaps! I mean, I'm sorry, I just can't listen to Howard telling me not to do black bag jobs and how much he loathes killing innocent civilians. He's got to be forced into it and let it wrack his consciousness later... It's too bad Harry Dresden already did the bit with touching the forbidden sigil and be partially possessed. That's exactly the kind of experience Bob Howard needs to go through, or else he's just Simon Pegg.
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