What do you get when you combine mega-churches, heresy, Lovecraft, and the spy genre? No, not Rob Bell, although I half suspect that he kept an eldritch horror hidden under Mars Hill church while he was pastoring there. No, what you get is Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross.
Our poor protagonist is just barely over his last escapade when he gets a call from “External Assets”. External Assets? The Laundry isn’t supposed to have External Assets! But they do, and it is up to Bob Howard to keep an eye on them as they investigate the pastor of a mega-church, who appears to believe that the Sleeper on the Pyramid is in fact Jesus. (So, see, it’s not that different from your average mega-church.) However, there is more going on than Christianity with some bad juju thrown in, and Bob may find himself saving the world…again.
This was a pretty fun book, even though Stross had the token “obnoxious atheist “ character. He balanced that out by giving Bob a helpful vicar friend (who may become part of the Laundry for his knowledge in ancient religions-gotta keep an eye on those crazy cultists these days), and through the vicar certainly contrasting the crazy church with regular Christianity (even though in this Lovecraftian universe it is not considered factual either). Stross gleefully parodies mega-churches and the odder doctrines that pop up (at one point the vicar character compares the mega-cult to the Mormons…but worse). It is also refreshing to find that Stross continues to contrast his spy to the spies often seen in popular fiction. Bob is happily married, squeamish about hurting others, and his main asset is his ability to think geek-fast in a bad situation. Oh, and he has gained his boss’ ability to command the dead. That always helps.
It was quite a fun ride, and I’m looking forward to Stross’ next book, whenever we get that.