Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Review: Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, crawled out of Hell, took bloody revenge for his girlfriend's murder, and saved the world along the way. After that, what do you do for an encore? You take a lousy job tracking down monsters for money. It's a depressing gig, but it pays for your beer and cigarettes. But in L.A., things can always get worse.
Like when Lucifer comes to town to supervise his movie biography and drafts Stark as his bodyguard. Sandman Slim has to swim with the human and inhuman sharks of L.A.'s underground power elite. That's before the murders start. And before he runs into the Czech porn star who isn't quite what she seems. Even before all those murdered people start coming back from the dead and join a zombie army that will change our world and Stark's forever.
Death bites. Life is worse. All things considered, Hell's not looking so bad.
If you like gritty and inventive writing with plenty of blood and violence then Kill the Dead will blow your mind! I can't even begin to tell you how surprised I was by this book and how much I loved it. I'm adding this to my favorites of 2011 list, right there with The President's Vampire (Farnsworth) and The Kensei (Merz). After reading so many paranormal romances it is incredibly nice to change it up and read something from the male perspective. I'm not sure how that matters really because I have been treated to some fabulous female authors this year, and I'm not aiming to be sexist or anything like that, but it does seem that males write with a different technique and focus. A totally new experience and a completely fresh look at the world of angels and demons.
I didn't have the luxury of reading Sandman Slim (book 1) but I was given enough of the backstory that it didn't matter overmuch, other than I want to read it because I loved this sequel. The protagonist, James Stark, called Sandman Slim by those that don't really know him, is an awesome character with a razor sharp wit and a quick smartass mouth. He's almost like an antihero in that his motives stem from emotions like revenge and retribution, he doesn't always want to do the right thing but somehow does just that, he works on both sides depending on who pays the best and most view him as an Abomination. How can you not love him? In some aspects he reminded me a lot of Dean Winchester but I can't really give any reasons why. Maybe his sarcasm. Maybe his attitude.
The writing style is crazy visual (Sin City-ish) and I could totally see every scene in my mind, even the creepy zombie scenes which would normally give me nightmares but strangely didn't this go round. The dialogue keeps the story moving and makes the characters more dimensional. I also really enjoyed the large cast of secondary characters, like Lucifer, Brigitte, Allegra, Vidocq, Carlos and Kasabian. James's "friends" are an assorted bunch to be sure and I liked them all in different ways.
Here's a little Stark philosophy for you:
The universe is a meat grinder and we're just pork in designer shoes, keeping busy so we can pretend we're not all headed for the sausage factory. Maybe I've been hallucinating this whole time and there is no Heaven or Hell. Instead of having to choose between God and the devil, maybe our only real choice comes down to link or patty?
Basically I recommend this book to everyone that's looking for something new in the paranormal landscape and hope that readers will take a chance on a really cool series.
Other books in the series:
Kill the Dead
Aloha From Hell (available 10/18 and I cannot wait)
You can find Richard in the usual internet haunts: