Once in a while I stumble across a book that I’ve not heard a word about but something about it just stands out on the shelf. I was walking through the Sci/Fi section in Borders and I see Sandman Slim on their featured shelf and then I see the absolutely effusive praise from William Gibson and I’m very curious. The jacket description doesn’t give you much, if anything it makes this sound much closer to The Dresden Files when I would say it’s really like Joe Pitt’s little brother. Richard Kadrey writes a blisteringly cool dark fantasy urban noir that is maniacally bleak and ultra violent.
Jim Stark is a magician. Not a card trick guy but someone who really can use magic. When the book opens Stark has just found his way back from Hell to LA on a collision course for revenge against former friends who not only sent him to Hell but also killed his beloved Alice. Stark has not come back empty handed though. He has a black knife made of some sort of bone that can cut through anything and a key from Lucifer himself that Stark has hidden in his heart. This key allows Stark to jump into a shadow and then out to any location he chooses. What Kadrey does so well is gives Stark some time and the reader as well to get accustomed to what is going on. There’s a post punk tiki bar, Homeland Security, a trader of supernatural artifacts, angels, anti angels, brothels that specialize in occult creatures and an anti hero who is supremely hard to kill.
Stark is Sandman Slim, the monster who kills monsters. He’s also the coolest character to come along in a long time. I understand this is the first in a series. I am along for the ride.