Review: Kill City Blues – A Sandman Slim Novel by Richard Kadrey

Kill-City-Blues1I read a lot. In the past year or so I’ve ingested over 100 books, so imagine how excited I was to find that our little site here was catching enough eyes for Harper Collins to ask us if we’d like some books to review. Granted, mostly I’ve caught up on a lot of the classics, I read all 7 books in Asimov’s Foundation series, most of the books in the adjoining Robot series, some of Heinlein’s best works, a little Jules Verne, a few old AD&D stories, got halfway through the Sword of Truth series and started reading through the Wheel of Time books. So I wondered to myself upon its arrival, especially with the dust cover boasting admonitions from the likes of Cory Doctorow and William Gibson, how I’d never heard of Richard Kadrey or his Sandman Slim books. Especially considering how good this one is.

I’ll start this off simple. If you like the show Supernatural, if you read or watched and enjoyed John Dies At The End, or if you’ve ever wondered what Dante from Devil May Cry‘s life was like up to the point of the first game’s opening cut scene, you’ll enjoy this. Just like the series mentioned, Kill City Blues is chocked full of snark, pop-culture references, quick, humorous wit, and “cool”, violent, action scenes that are written so well they’ll have you reading on the edge of your seat. (does that happen?)

I haven’t read the rest of the series (yet), but thankfully, as I started off with this book, I found that it didn’t matter. The scene is set, the characters are great, and enough quick explanation is given to past events and reasons for current actions that it feels like it could be the first book in the series of a well-thought-out world.

The book starts off in a doughnut shop.  James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, a nephilim, half human/half angel, and ex-Lucifer of Hell, is sitting with his girlfriend Candy, who is a Jade, a sort of vampire-ish monster that eats people by liquefying their insides, and Samael, Angel of the Lord and also ex-Lucifer of Hell, the original actually, having some fried, sugared, dough and updating their Wikipedia entries.

Then things get crazy.

In walks a man who’s trying to buy an item of interest from Stark. The Qomrama, a god-killing weapon built as a defense mechanism against the Angra Om Ya, the elder gods, who are trying to break back into our universe to reclaim what was once theirs and punish those who took it from them, first and foremost God. He thinks Stark has it. He did, but he lost it, and doesn’t care much who does have it now as long as it doesn’t become his problem. Unfortunately, as soon as he admits his loss of the object, a gun starts going off in his direction. He chases down the guy and ends up woven into a web of situations he can’t climb out of without reclaiming the Qomrama and getting everyone out of his hair.

His journey takes him through the scummy underworld of supernatural Los Angeles, including corrupt politico, the magic using Sub Rosa families, Vampire covens, Satan worshipers, and back-alley soul traders, and then to Hell itself. But worse than Hell, to Kill City, a decrepit abandoned super-mall that has become a sort of a Kowloon-esque city of degradation and the worst of what the supernatural community has to offer. Families of daemon worshipers and covens that more closely resemble the Leatherface household in Texas Chainsaw Massacre than the good ol’ boys from Deliverance, but just barely.

Along his journey he gets help from his motley group of friends and allies and goes up against some of his most hated enemies. It’s a beautifully paced action movie full of loveable scoundrels, and I highly recommend it, even if you haven’t read the rest of the series, which after reading this, I will start doing very, very soon.

Kill City Blues releases today, July 30th, 2013. Check it out and of course, enjoy!

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