I am absolutely, positively, insanely jealous over anyone who has not yet discovered Richard Kadrey’s urban fantasy series that features James Stark, aka Sandman Slim. Kadrey’s seventh book in the series, Killing Pretty, just hit the stands… and it is outstanding. Over the course of seven books, Kadrey has built his own mythology of Heaven and Hell and all the beings (angelic, demonic, and… others) that live, breathe, die, get reborn, and other fates not for the faint of heart.
Back in the first book, Sandman Slim, readers were introduced to James Stark, who had just escaped Hell. James was a practitioner of magic, and some of his colleagues were a bit jealous of his growing power and sent him to Hell (alive!) where James was forced to survive first in the fighting pits against deadlier and deadlier opponents. The secret to how he survived is for readers to discover, but, because he survived, the generals of Hell used him as a hitman for their own politics. Denizens of Hell whispered his new name, Sandman Slim, and did their best to avoid his attention. Sandman Slim, now free of Hell and back in LA, has a mission to find those responsible for sending him Downtown… and along the way Kadrey sets up an incredible cast of characters and locales that have changed drastically as the series has developed. Books 2 through 6 kept readers busy with such happenings as:
* … becoming a bodyguard to Satan, who is in Hollywood assisting a director (who sold his soul, obviously) to bring the Prince’s biography to the big screen.
* … discovering an ancient and powerful enemy out to destroy Heaven and Hell (and fully capable of doing so).
* … heading back to Hell to rescue his ex-girlfriend, and instead finding himself leading an army of demons to storm the gates of Heaven (but for good reason)!
* … tricked into taking over the role of Satan and cleaning house (so to speak), and trying to discover which generals are out to kill him.
* … negotiating with God to open the gates between Heaven and Hell (for good reasons)!
* … fighting through an abandoned mega-mall inhabited by everything BUT humans to find an ancient artifact to defend Heaven and Hell against an ancient enemy.
* … assisting a government-supported (and totally secret) organization that fights the supernatural while working as a private investigator and hunting down a modern-day Jack the Ripper.
Do you see what I mean? Just plain crazy plots with supernatural twists and turns… all while watching, if you can believe it, the character of Sandman Slim mature (yes, mature!) as a person because he’s got friends, owns a video rental business that is actually showing a profit, and has just enough love for LA to not want to see it destroyed by fire, floods, and dozens more threats.
And now we get Book 7… Killing Pretty. When Book 6 ended (The Getaway God), Sandman Slim had his first case as a private investigator literally drop at his feet. Someone killed Death (making him mortal)… and Death needs Sandman Slim to find out who and why. As Sandman begins to investigate Death’s… death… he also has to take care of this being who has no idea what it means to be human. Eating, drinking, and getting injured are all new to this guy, and as Slim starts digging into the case, he begins to discover a much darker, more sinister plot to use Death’s powers in one of the grandest and most insane attempts to destroy the world yet.
Seven books, and I’m honestly hoping there’s no end in sight. There are so many sub-plots that wind their way through all the books, that readers really get much more than seven stories… there are a dozen or so more mini-stories that have resolved, are resolving, or are just getting started. Characters have come and gone… and come back. Favored haunts have developed or been destroyed… and come back. And enemies have come and gone… and come back. And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
As I stated earlier, any readers who haven’t discovered Kadrey’s magic-infused LA are just missing out on some of the most fun you can have reading about an anti-hero with a universe-sized grudge and the means to deliver a whooping on anyone who looks at him cross-eyed.
Killing Pretty was released on July 27, 2015.
Here is a link to one of my earlier Sandman Slim reviews: