Charles Stross’ The Rhesus Chart

Warning: here be spoilers. Lots of them.

There are no such things as vampires. Everyone knows that, including Bob Howard and the other members of The Laundry, the secret agency that protects the British from the eldritch horrors that are just waiting outside time and space to devour everything here. Why everyone believes that is one thing that makes this story so entertaining.

Cover of the audiobook version of Charles Stross The Rhesus ChartThat Howard even finds out that there are indeed vampires is the result of a skunkworks project that he undertakes to look for the brain disease that sorcerers get from ritual magic, a sort of accelerated Mad Cow disease caused by really minute eldritch entities that find those brains ever so tasty. In doing so, he discovers that a research unit of a major bank has, yes, vampires that have, by drinking the blood of their victims, transferred those squiggly creatures to them, and that kills them really fast. (Vampires are immune.) And these vampires are indeed sensitive to sun, hyper-strong, have night vision, and all the other classic traits, save sleeping in coffins, ascribed to the vampires in folklore.

Unfortunately these vampires, by dint of having a member who’s on the inactive list of The Laundry, are able to save their sooty asses by being an asset of that group. Now that might be enough to keep them safe if there wasn’t a much older vampire, actually two it turns out, who have every reason to make sure the world never knows their kind exists. So the assassin-trained one of them starts to kill the others off using the oldest trap in the world — sex.

There’s a second story thread involving Bob, his wife Monique, and the demon masquerading as a fiddle that she plays to banish eldritch horrors — yes a damned fiddle. It’ll be no surprise to those who’ve been reading this series (The Rhesus Chart is book #5 in Charles Stross’ The Laundry Files) to guess that story thread is not going to end well for anyone save the demon.

It’s as good as any of the previous novels in the series, even if it’s definitely bleaker with one longstanding major character gone by the end of it, and several other changes in the series that are not for the better.

This unabridged audiobook is narrated by Gideon Emory, who has been narrating the latter novels in Simon Green’s Secret History series, which means do not listen to them back to back. (I did it once.) To his credit, Emory is very, very good at giving each character his (or her) own unique voice.

(Brilliance Audio, 2013)

 

About Cat Eldridge

I’m the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog.

My current reading is the Wylding Hall novella by Elizabeth Hand, Simon R. Green’s Night Fall, and listening to Rita Mae Brown’s Crazy As A Fox.

I’m listening to a whole bunch of new Celtic and Nordic new releases but I’ll dip in my music collection for such artists as Blowzabella, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Frifot as the weather stays nasty.

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