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Kill City Blues: A Sandman Slim Novel by Richard Kadrey
Review by Drew Bittner
Harper Voyager Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062094599
Date: 30 July 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

James "Sandman Slim" Stark worked his way up from gladiator and hitman to being Lucifer; he tried it, didn't like it. So now he's back in LA with his demon girlfriend and a living head/computer hacker, plus all the room service the Chateau Marmont can deliver. Thing is, just because he's walked away from Hell doesn't mean the universe is done with him. Not yet.

Also by Richard Kadrey:
Sandman Slim:
* Sandman Slim
* Kill the Dead
* Aloha from Hell
* Devil Said Bang
* Devil in the Dollhouse
* Kill City Blues Other Books:
The Dominion:
* Butcher Bird

In Kill City Blues, Stark has to find a godslaying weapon he misplaced as he was leaving Hell. The Qomrama Om Ya might look like a bauble, but a renegade angel killed a fragment of God with it and aims to finish the job; not only that, but a whole clan of displaced deities want to get it so that they can return to our universe.

Stark would prefer to stay in, watch movies and order room service, but that's not on the menu. Instead, he has to shake down some informants, survive a hit squad put together by some old enemies, take a meeting with God (well, a part of him anyway) and Satan, and stay one step ahead of trouble.

An unwelcome complication is the intrusion of the Sub Rosa, who act as law enforcement for magical beings. Stark has history with their bosses, too, and their "taking an interest" only makes things worse.

Needless to say, Stark's investigation doesn't work out all that smoothly. The trail to the weapon leads to Kill City, a derelict shopping mall that was the site of a tragic accident--one that cost the lives of more than a hundred people. Now it's the lair of several supernatural tribes, all of whom would happily kill Stark and his friends just for grins.

He's going to have to survive one of the most hellish labyrinths on Earth to find the ultimate prize, if rivals and traitors don't finish him off first.

Author Richard Kadrey ups the ante in this volume, where Stark is racing the clock as much as his competitors. He's fought one of the outsider-gods before--in the form of a little girl named Lamia--and he knows that if they get back in, reality as we know it is finished. It doesn't help that God isn't quite up to the challenge of facing down cosmic-level enemies, either, although Mr. Muninn (the current Lucifer) is a delightful foil for Stark's brand of mordant wit.

It's also interesting that Kadrey devotes thought to the administration of Hell and even offers up a novel solution to the problem of damnation. I won't spoil it here but it does invite some innovative philosophical speculation.

With a large but well realized cast, many of whom have sharply diverging needs and agendas, and a slickly noir style of storytelling, Kadrey has produced another fast-paced, engaging and enjoyable installment of this series. We look forward to what he does next.

Recommended.

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