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The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files #5)

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  3,259 ratings  ·  304 reviews

Bob Howard is an intelligence agent working his way through the ranks of the top secret government agency known as 'the Laundry'. When occult powers threaten the realm, they'll be there to clean up the mess - and deal with the witnesses.

There's one kind of threat that the Laundry has never come across in its many decades, and that'
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 3rd 2014 by Orbit (first published July 1st 2014)
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Terje Bless
I tend to give Stross' work 5 stars by default and then subtract from there. The Rhesus Chart, unfortunately, is sufficiently uneven that the 4 stars I do give it is a little bit generous and subjective. I love the book, as I pretty much love everything Stross bothers putting to paper, but objectively this is among his weaker efforts in pure technical terms.

Its weakest aspect is, ironically, the central storytelling conceit: Bob Howard's narration. Where this has been a strength in previous book
Bob vs vampires.

As I've said before, these are fun and I read each of them hoping I can give it four stars, but they always have too many problems that I can't ignore. I'll run down what for me are the top four issues of the current entry.

The book is structured as a 200 page prologue followed by a 150 page main plot. This causes obvious pacing problems, and the sad thing is it would be pretty straight-forward to fix in at least two different way.

There is a hidden villain who turns out to be the
Allen Adams

Vampires don’t exist.

That’s a normal enough attitude for most people, but when a super-secret organization devoted to defending the world from the supernatural horrors that lie beyond the dimensional veil adopts the same attitude – and vehemently so – it ought to raise a few questions.

So it is in “The Rhesus Chart”, the fifth in the Laundry Files series of sci-fi/spy mash-ups by Charles Stross. Agent Bob Howard – the reluctant hero - is once more in the mi
John Carter McKnight
Possibly the best of the Laundry Files novels. Stross returns to the bureaucratic/corporate IT satire that the series began with, ruthlessly sending up managerial fads. He takes the bankers/vampires analogy beyond the obvious, playing with the trope in a way that offers up some sharp social commentary along with the humor.

The plot is tight without being convoluted, the pacing quick and carefully structured. A lot happens for the overall series arc, more so than in previous volumes, and definite
I'm having an increasingly love hate relationship with this series. The early books in the series had enthralling build ups but very weak endings. Stross seems to have overcome his problems building interesting exciting finales, but the books themselves are getting more and more boring in the lead up.

And I'm really beginning to loath Bob as a narrator. It's getting to the point where I'd be ok with Bob being eaten by some tentacle cosmic horror if I could just get his overly self-aware, self-imp
This was Stross' strongest Laundry Files novel yet. Or, it was my favorite of his Laundry Files novels. I'm still not clear on which.

Here's what he does well:

* Angleton is fantastic
* New characters are added well
* Especially this: personal relationships are handled in a clear and adult manner, making them a great medium for showing values and reflection on our lives.

Freaking great read w/ perfect (dammit) timing on the closing sentence.
Lars Augensen
Could have used an editor. It seemed like every chapter started by restating what had happened so far, and I'm sure I saw the same sentences used six times.
Charles Storss, how are you managing to break my heart twice in one spy/vampire/bureaucrat/Cthulu mash-up novel? Can't wait for number 6.
As always, this Laundry Files novel takes excellent aim at current IT and organizational fads as well as horror/SF cliches, and delivers a rollicking adventure at the same time. I had just been reading up on agile methodology for software development and was thoroughly entertained by this book's warped application of the agile "Scrum" framework to how a contemporary nest of vampires would work through their objectives.

The protagonist, Bob Howard, is also reaching maturity as circumstances enabl
A great plot idea and the always fascinating cast should have made for an enjoyable addition to the Laundry series. Unfortunately, I found the book terribly paced, with long stretches of unnecessary exposition—mostly mr. Howard telling us the obvious or worse, summarizing previous events of the book for the benefit of other characters. Moreover, the attitude and language of mr. Howard, which worked so well for the early entries in the series, is by now getting stale. Whereas the series has alway ...more
Well bloody hell. That didn't end the way I expected it to (and that's not a bad thing!). Unsurprisingly as Case NIGHTMARE GREEN continues to approach, the Laundry series continues to get darker. I don't want to say too much because this one in particular really needs to not have anything approaching spoilers. But argh! What I actually said when the audio ended (BTW the audio version kicks some serious butt) was "Well sh*t". I cannot wait for the next one (late next year alas!). Well played agai ...more
It's a good book! If you liked the series, you'll like this. It does, however, feel like a collection of short stories bolted together, as that's the only way I can account for the repetition throughout, beyond maybe the editor needing to crack their whip a little bit more. Also surprisingly free of Stross' political views, which struck me as incredibly restrained on his part, if nothing else. Of course, the vampires all being investment bankers is as direct as it can possibly get...

It's not a r
Rasmus Skovdal
The Rhesus Chart, the fifth Laundry book, in which our hero battles the scariest monster known to man: the investment banker (who happens to be a vampire, also).

The good:

Scaled down (-ish) plot, personal stakes (it's a vampire novel – stakes – get it? Ha. Ha.) and a bit more spy action than in the last two or so books.

The characters have aged since the first book. The world actually progresses.

Not-Marianne was an amusing take on the vampire hunter, if a bit heavy-handed.

The bad:

Clumsy resolution
3.5 stars. Good paranormal horror thriller in which computational demonologist Bob discovers what seems to be a nest of vampires, except everyone he works with is convinced that vampires can't exist. While this didn't end with a cliffhanger, it did end with me exclaiming, "Wait, what?!" and looking for additional pages...
Gabriel Daleson
On one hand, this doesn't seem quite the same as the other books in the series. Yes, it uses all the familiar language and characters, but underneath that top layer, it's a different kind of book.

Unlike the others, this is really a (view spoiler) story. That's not a bad thing, certainly; it's not by any means a familiar or stereotypical take.

I also think the author's done a great job in grafting this in. Usually authors end up with clear and obvious problems with this kin
The fifth book in the series has Bob handing investment banker vampires [which don't exist] and dealing with the personal fallout of getting one of his and Mo's few non Laundry friends involved with the Laundry [from the previous book]. His take on vampires fits great with the overall universe he has set up. I do have to say that as amusing as bits of these books are there is the overwhelming dread that the end is coming as it does get referenced by most of the regular characters at some point i ...more
Best vampire book I've read in a long time.
Another very strong book in Stross's The Laundry Files series. This outing was surprisingly dark (yes, even given the Lovecraftian subject matter), but in a way that makes me excited to read the next book in the series. I also thought that Stross's willingness to (view spoiler) suggests a certain maturity as a writer.

So far, I've found every odd-numbered book in The Laundry Files series to be great. Atrocity Archives (book 1),
Wow. I've liked all of the books in the Laundry Files, but this one is the best so far. An accident by a bank stock group leads to an infection that, well, they're not quite vampires, but close enough for government work. And from there, things spiral way out of control. This book builds amazingly well; I was a little annoyed by some of the chapter beginnings which seem to rehash previous events like it was published serially, and there's a foreshadowing that seems a bit heavy handed, but when t ...more
J. Hamlet
Offbeat humor? Check. Hilarious government acronyms for occult stuff? Check. Ultraviolence? Check.

I was wondering where Stross would head next with the Laundry Files, and the fact that vamps would come up eventually isn't surprising. As usual, though, Stross twists the very concept to fit the Laundry universe impeccably. After a young investment banker opens a window to another world and finds himself with an odd hunger and a sensitivity to sunlight it's only a matter of time until the wheels f
An atypical Laundry novel is, on balance, a good idea: the longer Stross continues the series the more likely it is that the setting will become stale. As the opening chapters quickly reveal, the plot pivots from eldritch horrors to (view spoiler).In that the novel becomes an examination of that topic -- much as the prior installments have looked at Lovecraft-filter-through-tech-support -- it succeeds in bringing fresh ideas to the table while also tying them ba ...more
Alex Japha
I have always viewed Charles Stross’ Laundry Novels as something of a guilty pleasure. Not in that I feel bad for liking them but because I realize how plainly and unforgivingly they pander to my nerdiness. Bob Howard, the protagonist, is the heroic Everyman interpreted for a generation of geeks obsessed with electronics, computer programming, and lovecraftian science fiction/fantasy. Over the course of the first four books, I learned to like Stross’ geek messiah and indulged in an alternate rea ...more
Apparently I'm so fed up of vampires that not even the ever-inventive Charles Stross can make them interesting. This latest instalment in the Laundry series is yet another "alternate take on the vampire legend", and while it features the trademark black humour and mix of office politics and Lovecraftian horror, I felt it wasn't as good as some of the preceding books.

The first half of the story, which introduces Stross' version of vampires, is actually pretty strong: a bunch of bankers accidental
Richard Jones
Everybody in the Laundry knows there's no such thing as vampires. Which, when you consider that their day job has them facing down appallingly powerful, eldritch beings from beyond spacetime on a regular basis, strikes computational demonologist Bob Howard as a little odd.

With "The Rhesus Chart," which is more sanguinary than simian, Charles Stross breaks my heart.

Bob Howard has worked in the Laundry, the British secret government organization tasked with dealing with supernatural threats, fo
C.T. Phipps
"Everybody knows vampires don't exist."

I love the Laundry series, it's one of the most interesting urban fantasy series I've seen in recent years. It's unique combination of British spy fiction, computer lingo, and the Cthulhu Mythos has made it a smashing success. With good reason. While I wasn't a big fan of The Jennifer Morgue, I've loved all novels before and since. I also am quite fond of the short-stories and novellas. So, when The Rhesus Chart came out, I was one of the first buyers.

Tim Niland
"Don't be silly, Bob, everybody knows there is no such thing as vampires!" Or so everyone keeps telling Bob Howard, middle manager and computational demonologist at The Laundry, a super-secret branch of the British government tasked with policing supernatural phenomena and horrors from beyond the realms of space and time. But odd things keep popping up, like a group of quants at a prestigious investing house that use algorithmic research to stumble into the V-Virus, allowing them super strength, ...more
While I would happily recommend the first two Laundry novels to nearly everyone as a must read, the latter one, and now this, feel more like a "ha, got a captured audience, got a recipe to keep them fairly entertained, write and repeat."
Also, with this book, imo, Stross has outed himself as a geek/nerd tourist, rather than an initiate (see towards the end of my review), which seriously devalues this book, unfortunately...

Let me explain:

Just finished reading this and am a bit torn - as in some ot
With The Rhesus Chart, Charles Stross was able to both amuse the hell out of me and leave me speechless (and to be honest, a bit sad).

Beginning with the amusement, Stross takes this novel as both a homage and a tongue in cheek satire of the popular topic of many urban fantasy novels: vampires.

He takes a fascinating, different, and plausible (for The Laundry Files universe) approach to vampirism, which ends up being funny and a bit disturbing at the same time.

The amusement includes the in novel
Tim Hicks
If you've been reading the Laundry books, and thinking Stross is building a nice little series here, this is your reward. It's complex, breaks some new ground, retains the veddy British attitude that keeps it apart from the Correia, Butcher genre, follows its own rules consistently, and has the lead character growing through the series. Also some things at the end that you might not be expecting but make sense.

The climactic scene is a tad gory but well done, and sets us up well to continue the
Scotto Moore
An excellent new volume in the Laundry series, about a top secret British intelligence agency tasked with protecting us from supernatural threats of a Lovecraftian nature. In this edition, dueling vampires catch our hero, computational necromancer Bob Howard, in their crossfire. These aren't your twinkly brooding vamps, nor are they easily and simply dispatched with a simple stake. These are powerful centuries-old undead sorcerers who join forces to face an apparently common threat. Awesome here ...more
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Charles David George "Charlie" Stross is a writer based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His works range from science fiction and Lovecraftian horror to fantasy.

Stross is sometimes regarded as being part of a new generation of British science fiction writers who specialise in hard science fiction and space opera. His contemporaries include Alastair Reynolds, Ken MacLeod, Liz Williams and Richard Morgan.

More about Charles Stross...

Other Books in the Series

Laundry Files (7 books)
  • The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1)
  • The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2)
  • The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files, #3)
  • The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files, #4)
  • The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files, #6)
  • The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7)
Accelerando The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1) Singularity Sky (Eschaton, #1) Halting State Glasshouse

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