10 March 2011
Book Banter -- Kill the Dead
Author: Richard Kadrey
Genre: urban fantasy
Length: 434 pages
Where Word Nerd's Copy Came From: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library
Plot Basics: James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, fought his way out of hell to come back to Earth to avenge his girlfriend's death. Finished with that, he's now working as hired muscle in LA to deal with problems of the monstrous or war-between-heaven-and-hell variety. When Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness himself, comes to town to oversee a biopic of his life, he taps Stark to be his bodyguard. Stark pushes into the mystery and suddenly, LA is in danger of being overrun with zombies. He must defeat them or risk being sent back to hell.
Banter Points: It's odd to me to write a glowing review of a novel about a guy from hell fighting zombies that was uber-violent and full of trashy elements when I just put down a book about inner city youth that was violent and full of trashy elements. Nevertheless, I'm going to... Kill the Dead is brilliant supernatural noir. Stark, for all his violence and filthy mouth, manages to get you to root for him as the anti-hero of the decade. The writing is as stark as the main character and Kadrey manages to make it all poetic in its sparsity and Starks' internal self-doubt.
Bummer Points: The problem with coming into a series at the beginning is the wait for future volumes. Additionally, while reading and enjoying this book about demons and zombies and hoodoo magic, I always sort of feel like I should be getting zapped from some kind of heavenly lighting bolt because something this twisted and wrong shouldn't be so right.
Word Nerd Recommendation: I've seen a few people compare Sandman Slim to Harry Dresden and it's a comparison that sort of works if you take Harry, strip away everything that makes him a good guy, dip him in "Interview with the Vampire" angst, and roll him in something like the Screwtape Letters if they'd been written by a Satan worshipper and bake him to a crisp. I haven't ever read anything quite like these, so the recommendation is that if you're looking for something ompletely unique, Sandman Slim is it.