Killing Pretty (Sandman Slim)
by Richard Kadrey
Cover Artist: Design by Crush Creative
Review by Wes Breazeale
Harper Voyager Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062373106
Date: 28 July 2015 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Richard Kadrey has written six previous Sandman Slim novels, each building on the other and often picking up mere days or weeks from the end of the prior book. This has made for interesting reading, but also created an overarching story that has gotten increasingly complex. James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has met God and battled old gods. He has served as Lucifer and run Hell itself. He's lost friends and made enemies, and each book has dived deeper and deeper into his story and the fate of the world.
It is a pleasure then, for readers to have a chance to step into the Sandman Slim world anew, with Kadrey's latest, Killing Pretty. While Killing Pretty follows the same style as the earlier books, picking up right where the last novel left off, the novel itself is readable as a standalone story. True, the character development from the earlier books plays a role in where they find themselves now, but readers just joining Kadrey in Stark's world will not necessarily need those back stories to understand what is going on.
In Killing Pretty, Stark finds himself working as a P.I. for a former member of the Golden Vigil. As is his wont, his first case is a doozy--figure out who killed Death. Or at least who tried to do so, cutting the heart out of the body that Death currently inhabits. But with no Death on duty, no one actually is dying. So how do you solve the murder of someone who can’t die?
Kadrey does a nice job of slowly expanding the mystery, unveiling bits and pieces as Stark and his girlfriend Candy/Chihiro (don't ask!) do the legwork and follow up leads. To say too much will spoil the fun, but suffice it to say that the plot is more complex and nuanced than one might think.
Filled with Kadrey’s trademark pop culture references, snarky humor, and well staged violence, Killing Pretty is a fun continuation of the Sandman Slim mythology. Longtime fans will likely enjoy being able to take a step back and read a story that's pretty straight forward. It's like taking a break during a long excursion, stopping to enjoy the scenery while you catch your breath. Continued adventures are sure to come, and new readers who enjoy Killing Pretty will be well served to catch up on the previous six books.