Friday, January 27, 2012

Kill The Dead

Kill The Dead

Written by: Richard Kadrey

Hardcover: 448 pages

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Language: English

October 2010, $22.99

Genre: Urban Fantasy



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.




+++++++++++++

"Hell is hilarious if you're the one in charge." ~ Lucifer

I first read Richard Kadrey a couple of years ago when I picked up Butcher Bird and loved it. It was snarky. It was dark. And it was a hell of a lot of fun. Now it wasn't that I didn't like the first of the Sandman Slim novels, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as Butcher Bird so it took me a while to pick up Kill the Dead. I will say that a genre that is so saturated with snarky heroines and a bit way too heavy on the romance, Kadrey’s anti-hero is a breath of fresh air the way that Harry Dresden, Felix Castor, Avery Cates, Matthew Swift and John Taylor are. He is not some dashing hunk of burning love and sometimes you want to hit him with a brick even while you are rooting for him. I like that he is so many shades of grey and while ultimately I think the Sandman Slim novels will appeal overall to a male audience (even though I am the kind of girl to enjoy mayhem and snark, you cannot help but feel some of the characters and subplots are right out of a fanboy’s wet dream. We girls have them, why cant the guys have theirs as well) I dig them and you might too. But maybe that is because I am Smirking and I am a bit on the wee bit odd side. And also I like foul mouthed anti-heros, acerbic wit and plots that give urban fantasy the dark gritty makeover I think its been needing for a while.

Kill the Dead begins a few months after the events of Sandman Slim. Stark is broke and to make ends meet he takes odd jobs and the occasional gig from the Golden Vigil (kind of like Homeland Security but with angels). He starts by tracking down a missing person who just happens to be a missing vampire. Of course in Stark’s world nothing is ever as easy as it appears to be and as per usual Stark finds himself being life’s bitch in one form or another. Now a bit of a celebrity after breaking out of Hell and doing a particular set of damage to the Sub Rosa community, Lucifer comes topside and hires Stark as his bodyguard while overseeing a new film about his life. Bodyguard, just for show - yeah right. Lucifer is not called the Prince of Lies for nothing and almost nothing about his motives are true. Then again what did you expect. Once again Stark Stark finds himself saving the day and not necessarily because he wants to, but what is a guy to do when you are fighting off zombies, trying to be charming to a beautiful Czech porn star named Bridget, and having a bit of an identity crisis as his scars heal and the Angel side of himself yearning to break free.

+++++++++

"Let me make sure I have this straight. The cavalry just rode into town and it's a Czech Gypsy porn-star zombie killer. Have I got that right?"

"Forgive me. I didn't think my life would seem so strange to Lucifer's alcoholic cowboy assassin." ~ Stark, Brigitte

Things I loved: I really want to like Stark, but again in this novel Kadrey seems to make him an ass just for the sake of being an ass. He’s supposed to be some bad ass escapee from hell who fought in the colosseums of hell. Mostly he just complains about his life and his hometown, steals shit because he can (though always complains about his lack of money...hmm) and generally is a bit emo albeit a snarky, chain smoking, profanity ridden sort of emo type. And yet by the end of the book he is that badass he is supposed to be, the acerbic anti-hero who you end up rooting for. He tries to act like he doesn't care and yet he does. He has an amazing sort of identity crisis in this book which was great. His scars are healing not that the angelic side is a bit more active and that is terrifying for Stark because his scars remind him where he has been. And as I said I really like having a male voice and one that is a bit film noir, a bit hack and slash and a lot of snark in it. It is refreshing to read. And Kadrey does snark like no one else and the dialogue is great. 



And I am a big fan of those peripheral characters like Candy, Allegra (Vidoq’s protegee and the girl who used to run Max Overload), Carlos (the Bamboo House bartender and owner) and my favorite Kasabian (who I didn't like the first time around, maybe its because is a head on a Wild Wild West sort of mechanical leg device who digs porn and burritos). And of course who doesn't love old Lucy himself.
And I am a big fan of those peripheral characters like Candy, Allegra (Vidoq’s protegee and the girl who used to run Max Overload), Carlos (the Bamboo House bartender and owner) and my favorite Kasabian (who I didn't like the first time around, maybe its because is a head on a Wild Wild West sort of mechanical leg device who digs porn and burritos). And of course who doesn't love old Lucy himself.

Things I didn't love so much: This book feels a bit chaotic almost as if Kadrey couldn't decide what he wanted to do with his second run with Stark. Then again it is a bit of a filler book as we await the big massive showdown between Mason and Stark...again. Plus Hell may be up for grabs and Heaven may unfortunately see a coup happening. That is kind of awesome, but I will say if you have not read Sandman Slim I feel like you would be woefully lost as even I had a hard time remembering old characters and the new ones and trying to figure out the significance of each.

Its hard to really be angry with the book as the faults and the merits balance one another out. While I both hate and love Stark, I love that the Hell thing is being explored as is an angel wanting to overthrow God. I dig the grittiness of it all, the no apologies approach and yet I want more than fanboy porn. Then again can I really fault Kadrey for it. Nope.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. Unless you own the first one, then buy.

Part of: A Series

Book One: Sandman Slim

Book Two: Kill the Dead

Book Three: Aloha from Hell (Due October 2012)

Also Recommended: Butcher Bird also by Kadrey, the Avery Cates series by Jeff Somers, the Felix Castor novels by Mike Carey, and Already Dead by Charlie Huston.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

1 comment:

Oto said...

This sounds quite interesting, thanks for sharing! :D