It feels like there's a lot of stuff in book 4 (and book 3) which fit well into an ongoing plot arc, but undermine some of the things I liked the most about book #1. The shift away from computational demonology towards improvised magic. The revelations about mahogany row. That CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is not just an ever-in-the-future bit of colour, but is actually a central plot point. The fact that the american black chamber is not just bureaucratic and idiosyncratic and overbearing, but are actually scary and almost as scary as some of the things they're supposed to be protecting against.
When I first read a lot of these, my mental gears clashed a lot, not because it was inconsistent that Bob would discover the laundry worked differently than he thought, but because I really liked how it seemed in book #1, and resented the changes. But now, looking at the overall shape of the series, I'm impressed at how Charlie is gearing up for an ongoing plot with NIGHTMARE GREEN. But I wish he'd had more time to polish the individual books slightly more, and tone down the self-deprecating humour a tad more.
Of course the black chamber are really dangerous -- but that wasn't driven home to me in the first couple of books. Persephone and Johnny running the show makes sense -- but when they just told Bob, and no-one had briefed him, I assumed they were making it up, I was shocked he believed them and more shocked when it turned out to be true! Book #1 SAID CNG was really coming -- but somehow, I didn't really believe it was almost here.
Likewise, presumably over ten years Bob has many assignments where restricting information from him so he doesn't know too much was a good idea. But in pretty much ALL the novels and ALL the short stories, Angleton or someone refuses to brief properly, and either it's really contrived, or it gets a lot of people killed, or both, so it seems stupid they'd go ON doing that. I guess, secret agencies work like that :(
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