The Apocalypse Codex (A Laundry Files Novel)
by Charles Stross
I found this book on our library website's audiobook. I didn't realize until nearly the end of the book that it was, in fact, book 4 in a series. The book had such an interesting start to it that I thought it had to be the first in a series. No, it was just unique (book 5 doesn't start the same way) and did a great job with introductory exposition and character development throughout the book also made it feel like a freshman outing. I really liked the book and I was left with the conundrum... do I go back and read the first three in the series? I decided not to - there are plenty of books out there, the character seemed to be a much better character by the end of the book (their personal growth through what they experienced, that is) and I didn't want to confuse myself.
Bob Howard is an "IT Guy" with "The Laundry," which is the unofficial name for a secret branch of the British government that protects people from paranormal things "beyond space-time." That is, demons, monsters from parallel universes and humans who make a practice of these types of phenomena for their own benefit (and usually the detriment of others).
A preacher from a Colorado mega-church (whose retreat weekends for prospective parishioners has an astounding 100% conversion rate) has been meeting with successful British businessman and wrangles a meeting with the Prime Minister and also holds a very packed rally in London. These events draw the attention of the British government and The Laundry becomes involved because of their ability to use "external assets" - non-employee contractors who can go where the government can't.
The book is an action-packed journey right out of the gate with an early chapter that deftly introduces several characters who may or may not exist outside of book 4 (I haven't seen them in book 5) in a way that really helps explain this universe and its rules for magic.
The book is also a humorous take on Bob's struggle with being promoted to management and enduring training and has some great turns of phrase like "lettuce-infested sandwich." Some creative phrases end up being overused and the book has a very negative opinion of Christianity.
However, it's still a fast-paced entertaining book which made me wish my commutes were longer.