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The Kill Society (Sandman Slim) by Richard Kadrey
Cover Artist: Designed by Crush Creative (crushed.co.uk)
Review by Wes Breazeale
Harper Voyager Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062474148
Date: 06 June 2017 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

One of the things I've always found entertaining about the Sandman Slim books is that there are no chapters -- each book in a sense acts as a chapter in one larger whole. Sure, it would be a hell of a book (no pun intended) but it would work. Case in point, The Kill Society begins exactly where The Perdition Score left off, with James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, stepping forth onto a sunbaked stretch of Hell that his isnít familiar with. If it has been a while since you read The Perdition Score, do yourself a favor and at least read the last few pages to refresh your memory as to what led up to that moment.

Richard Kadrey
Sandman Slim:
* Sandman Slim
* Kill the Dead
* Aloha from Hell
* Devil Said Bang
* Devil in the Dollhouse
* Kill City Blues
* The Getaway God
* Killing Pretty
* The Perdition Score
* The Kill Society
Another Coop Heist:
* The Everything Box
* The Wrong Dead Guy
Other Books:
* Metrophage
* Dead Set
The Dominion:
* Butcher Bird

One of the things I've always found entertaining about the Sandman Slim books is that there are no chapters--each book in a sense acts as a chapter in one larger whole. Sure, it would be a hell of a book (no pun intended) but it would work. Case in point, The Kill Society begins exactly where The Perdition Score left off, with James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, stepping forth onto a sunbaked stretch of Hell that his isn't familiar with. If it has been a while since you read The Perdition Score, do yourself a favor and at least read the last few pages to refresh your memory as to what led up to that moment.

Over the course of eight previous books, Stark has face off against old gods and other-dimensional beings; the new Christian God, as well as Lucifer and other angels and demons; zombies and any number of powerful magicians/sorcerers/necromancers; and of course a plethora of armed good guys and bad guys. In all that time there was one thing he hasnít been--dead. Well, thereís a first time for everything, and this time heís dead. Like, really, actually dead, which is kind of new for him.

The Kill Society is a tightly written story that brings together the current threads of Stark's life. But in some ways, it feels almost like a stand-alone story within the larger picture of his saga. Granted, there are frequent references to Stark's history and his prior experiences (including one so oblique that the short story it is based on is included with the book), but not until the latter parts of The Kill Society is any of that history imperative to the reader. This would certainly not be a good starting point for anyone looking to get on the Sandman Slim bandwagon, but in terms of readability, this is a less complex, slightly less twisted Sandman Slim story.

It all begins with that first glimpse of the wasteland mentioned above. This is not a part of Hell that Stark has visited before, and we later learn it is the Tenebrae, home of the lost dead. Stark quickly finds himself face-to-face with a crazed caravan of cars, trucks, construction equipment, and hellhounds straight out of a Mad Max movie. This is his introduction to the Havoc, which is led by a mysterious man called simply the Magistrate.

Without any real options, but having impressed the Magistrate, Stark joins the Havoc under an assumed name. He plans to ride with them for as long as it takes to figure out how he is going to get out of Hell if that's even possible this time. The Magistrate, of course, is on some sort of mission. He is working his way across the Tenebrae, terrorizing and destroying all in his path as he tries to find something. Something that he is keeping close to his vest but which Stark would like to learn more about. Along the way, Stark is introduced to a few new acquaintances and a few old ones as well.

For much of its reading time, The Kill Society has a very straightforward plot which advances step by step, letting the reader and Stark learn more about what the Magistrate is looking for and what it means in the context of Stark's current needs and past deeds. To say much more about the plot would be to spoil surprises.

The Kill Society has a high dose of action and intrigue, a nice dash of character development and insight, and the dark humor that we have come to know and love from Kadrey's Sandman Slim books. It is, of course, a must-read for any fan of the series, and one that won't disappoint.

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