The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files 1) is one of those titles that just kept popping up on my radar, and then when it went on Kindle sale I figured, that was the time. The premise is a cross between Office Space and X-Files, kind of like a supernatural NCIS kind of way. Our protagonist is Bob Howard, an IT done of the corporate variety on the surface, but who in reality works for a secret government agency specializing in protection against magic and the supernatural nasties; magic in this world is closely related to mathematics and programming, which is one of those clever little tweaks on reality that I appreciate; how a basic laptop or smart phone functions is essentially magical to most people, but in this world knowing the actual details behind the magic might enable you to summon something from the beyond which will try to take over your body, killing you, and possibly destroy humanity (Etc.)
Bob goes on a series of adventures on the job which involve quite a few secret agent cliches like a paper pusher who wants to be a field agent, the mysterious target who turns out to be surprisingly attractive (here a scholar named Mo), a variety of corporate standards like the mysterious apparently uber powerful supervisor, the ambitious power hungry boss (Harriet), the friend (Andy), the creepy but maybe brilliant roomies (Pinky and Brain), and the mysterious evil organization potentially behind everything.
One issue I had with this story (first in a long-ish series) is that it gets increasingly reliant on the techno-babble; for example, “The preparation referenced in 539/504 (i) has been referred to Special Projects Group ANDES, who have verified against records of the suppressed Geiger Committee that Von Schater is experimenting with drugs similar to the catastrophic Cambridge IV preparation.”-There’s an entire 3-page stretch of this. The other thing is how terrifically stupid the ending is. Bob has basically been in charge of protecting Mo who then of course gets kidnapped and evils must be vanquished to retrieve her, and in the ensuing series of adventures, it turns out that there has been a mastermind behind everything, and who it is and their motivation is beyond idiotic. On the one hand, maybe it’s an attempt at irony of sorts in Kierkegardian way, but that doesn’t excuse the completely mundane conclusion that essentially disregards a significant chunk of the plot, maybe intended as red herrings but then the proportion is out of whack.
The premise of the magic system and Bob’s initial entry into being an active agent is actually pretty interesting/entertaining, but as episodes continue, we get into the realm of Lovecraft (predictable if you know your basic horror tropes) if he’d decided to totally invent a jargon for Cthulu and the Old God was actually actively interested in crossing into the general human realm to eat us (or maybe just the psyche/energy) and wear the body (but can be banished if the signs are recognized- often by Bob but not always in time). The author notes point out that Lovecraft was an influence, but the combination of Lovecraft with a corporate manual/office dry comedy just isn’t balanced quite right.
I wouldn’t say this is a waste of time of $2, but I’m also not entirely sure I feel the need to get my hands on the rest of the series.