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August 5, 2013 / schulerbooks

Kill City Blues, by Richard Kadrey

9780062094599

The thing of it is, Stark should be happy.

After spending far too long as the new Lucifer, and discovering that statecraft and intrigue are simply not his strong points, he’s managed to leave Hell behind, yet again, and return to the land of the living. He’s healed up (mostly), he’s got his girl back, and he’s got the staff at the Chateau Marmont at his beck and call — all on Hell’s dime, no less. His friends and his allies surround him, the Devil’s back in Heaven, God’s on the thrones above and below.

And anyone who wants to mess with Sandman Slim is just going to have to get in line.

So yes, he should be happy. But while Stark’s gotten out of Hell, yet again, what he had to do to get out of there is still making echoes. And some of those echoes are being heard.

Case in point — remember the Qomrama Om Ya? It turns out the god-killing 8-Ball is still in play, even if it’s missing in action, and some very unpleasant people are coming around to try and take it from him.  And while Stark might be able to handle a couple bruisers on an errand, the people he’s up against now aren’t quite so disposable.

The good news is that he’s got a lead on where it is. The bad news is that he’ll have to make deals with the living-challenged to get it. And the worse news is that it’s been hidden someplace so close to being Hell on Earth that it’s a wonder there isn’t a “FOR SALE” sign written in Hellion at the front gate.

It was called Blue World City, once — the biggest shopping mall anywhere, right on the Santa Monica pier. Then it all came crashing down, leaving some victims trapped within, and attracting other, less wholesome folks into its ruins. It’s been Kill City ever since, and Stark and his friends (and a suspicious “ally” or two) are going to have to go in there to get it.

Cue demonic mayhem, bloody violence, and snark so thick you’d need a jackhammer to break it up, which is what Sandman Slim does best when he’s on the warpath. But this hellish quest is going to be one bad trip; not everyone is what they seem, and some people might not be making it out of Kill City in one piece, if at all…

Kadrey’s first two Sandman Slim novels proved that he had an amazing imagination, a genius for sharing it with us, and a great take on the sarcastic side of the first person dark urban fantasy genre. Sadly, his next two showed that he was, at times, unable to rein in that imagination, and stuffed both books so full of people, plot hooks, and cool things that they quickly degenerated into breathless stomps across the inside of his skull.

Thankfully, this time out the rich offerings have been pared back to more mentally-manageable levels, so that one no longer needs Cliff Notes and post-it notes to keep track of everything.  If you liked Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead, but thought the last two novels should have been four or five, Kill City Blues is a wonderful return to form — a jagged, black funride into and out of the darker sides of LA that promise, and deliver, a glorious shudder.

Kill City Blues is out now, and available at all Schuler Books locations.

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