Life can be uncertain, sometimes things get out of hand, and sometimes things are so bad that you need to call in a professional to solve it. Well, if you need help with an Ancient One, outbreak of werewolves, or just a simple disappearance, then these are the folks to call. (If it’s just ghosts, call these guys.)
The Laundry Files by Charles Stross
Bob Howard is a computer expert. Not exactly a hacker, but with that little bit of curiosity that never ends well. Playing around with new (to him) fractal equations, Bob finds out, in a most direct manner, that he came quite close to “landscaping Wolverhampton with alien nightmares” and is, um, strenuously encouraged to work for The Laundry, a secret division of British intelligence. Though an office job (cubicle included) Bob does a surprising amount of travel for work, often to deal with Cthulian nightmares, suppress a breakout of Gorgonism, or the like. Unfortunately for Bob, though, saving the world requires quite a few meetings.
Solidly placed on the humor side of things, this series has Lovecraftian overtones, and Stross further plays with his writing style, especially in the first four books. The Atrocity Archives is a nod to Len Deighton’s working-class, cynical characters; The Jennifer Morgue is styled for Ian Fleming’s Bond novels; The Fuller Memorandum brings Anthony Price’s historical counter-espionage thrillers to his pages; and The Apocalypse Codex is modeled on Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise. If any of The Old Ones wakes up, call Bob at The Laundry. He’ll take care of it.
The Automatic Detective by A Lee Martinez
Mack Megaton is an unlikely and somewhat reluctant hard-boiled investigator. He is a near-indestructible battle robot, the first and only one built by an evil genius bent on world domination. That gig fell through when the mastermind landed in the slammer, so Mack became a cab driver to pay for his electricity. Because he has “The Glitch” of self-awareness he’s on probation to becoming a full citizen and in the required therapy. When the family next door disappears, Mack knows something is wrong and decides to save them if he can. Using basic detective techniques, he follows a bare (metal) -knuckled trail through (alien) crime syndicates, is dogged by a (3-foot tall and furry) police detective, is vamped by a (child prodigy genius) bombshell with great gams, and picks up a (mutant ape) sidekick.
Martinez’s protagonists are generally the ‘everyman’ sort, albeit rarely human everypeople, giving him the space to explore the quirks, complexities, and problems of being your average indestructible robot or misunderstood monster. Light and with a strong current of humor running through them, any of Martinez’s books are fun reading.
Monster Hunters International by Larry Correia
Owen Zastava Pitt is an audit accountant at a large firm. Not exactly exiting for a polyglot and former pit fighter, but it pays the bills. Unfortunately, Owen’s employment comes to an abrupt end when his boss tries to kill him. Owen could deal with that fine, but the part where his boss turned into a Werewolf was a bit of a twist. On the plus side, Monster Hunter International got a copy of the security tapes of his throwing the were-boss out the 14th story window, liked what they saw, and offered Owen a new gig.
Originally written for fellow posters on a message board, the story found its way to Baen Books, who offered him contract. (ah, to dream) The series is full of political intrigue and rife with hard-boiled weapon-slinging and explosions. Even so, it’s fairly light fare and perfect when you want to see the forces of good smack around the forces of evil and take their lunch money.
~Posted by Jay F.