Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey


This is the fifth book in Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series. I *love* this series. It features the types of characters that I am drawn to in fiction, those who fall into a grey area of morality. Basically James Stark spent eleven years in hell, sent there by people who he called friends. In the first book he makes it out and seeks his revenge. Stark is known as Sandman Slim: ruthless, unyielding, cynical, and pissed. Over the course of the series he doesn’t so much as mellow out as he cools of a tiny bit.

Throughout the course of the series he fights zombies and demons in hell, becomes the new Lucifer (and hates it), and finally passes that job off on a more qualified person to head home to be with the girl he loves. This is a terribly reductive oversimplification but the true feature of the books that I love are the characterizations. Nobody is 100 percent good or 100 percent evil, not even Lucifer, until the Big Bads are introduced in the later books. As far as I can tell from the story so far they are truly evil and will threaten all of existence.

Here is the book blurb:

“James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell, renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon from the banished older gods who are also searching for their lost power.

The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall-a multi-story copy of LA-infested with Lurkers and wretched bottomfeeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of this fake LA. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods-and a few killers-on his tail.”

I really liked this book. The characters are all awesome and they come across very three dimensional which is always a plus. one of my favorite parts of the book and these characters is this: they have fights and argue but also fully support each other. they are a true family, not always seeing eye to eye but always there. James Stark is sarcastic and cynical as always and his girlfriend Candy is as great as ever.

The trip through the abandoned shopping mall was great. Tense and unnerving, it hits all the best buttons for me. I know people who turn their noses up at these book (and those like it), deriding them as not being “high-brow” enough or “low” fantasy. To those people I just shrug and think to myself that not every book I read needs to be Moby Dick or Pride and Prejudice.

I really think that these books keep getting better and I can’t wait for the next one!


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