By now you should know what to expect from a Laundry novel. Bob gets called in to investigate a strange situation, it all goes horribly awry, & he finds himself outnumbered and outgunned. And the fate of the world is on the line.
This time around, Bob goes to America to look into an “Evangelical” minister. One of those guys with a megachurch & whathaveyou. He’s there in a supervisory context, on loan to the Externals department (yeah, Bob hadn’t heard of those guys either). As you can probably guess, the minister is in fact trying to summon Lovecraftian horrors. And Bob & his “externals” have to stop the threat.
If you haven’t read any earlier Laundry novels, this is NOT the place to start. Stross doesn’t slow down to explain the workings of the Laundry universe or the Laundry itself. You will be confused & lost. It’s better to read the series from the beginning.
I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t spend much time with some of the usual supporting characters, but very much enjoyed the introduction of new characters. Hopefully they’ll be back, perhaps even with some spinoff stories of their own.
Given that the villain of the piece is nominally an Evangelical, I’m not surprised to see that there’s been a bit of a backlash to the discussion of religion in the book. Whatever Stross’ personal beliefs, he seemed to deal with religion in a way that is consistent with the rules of the Laundry universe. It is a dark, godless universe where the “One True Religion” exists to summon back Eldrich horrors. If you have personal problems with this Lovecraftian take on existence, then this probably isn’t the book for you.