As I’ve mentioned, I’ve often shied away from reading book series consecutively. I tend to get burnt out a bit if I push on too soon. I read the first book in Kadrey’s series “Sandman Slim” in the middle of last year and I loved it; I was worried about getting too much James Stark at once though. Finally, I felt I had put enough distance between myself & Mr. Stark since the last time and picked up “Kill the Dead”.
James Stark, the “Sandman Slim” of the series title is a badass bundle of hoodoo and raw muscle. He has quite a bit of attitude and self deprecating humor as well as a tendency to feel sorry for himself. Considering he spent the past eleven years in hell though, it’s okay. In Book 1 of the series, we watched as Stark clawed his way out of hell and went in search of revenge on the person that sent him ‘downtown’ in the first place. With those adventures behind him, we join Stark as he hunts down a rogue vampire, on a mission from Gold Vigil also known as ‘Heaven’s Special Task Force’. At first glance, you look at the title “Kill The Dead” and this first scene with a vampire and you figure you know where this story is going to go. Author Richard Kadrey is a cagey bugger though and it certainly doesn’t pan out as one would predict which is what makes this a lot of fun.
“Kill the Dead” treads a lot of familiar genre ground. There are vampires and zombies, but they’re different; especially on the zombie front. I was worried when they first showed up as zombie novels don’t do a whole lot for me these days. Kadrey mixes it up though. He gives us zombies that are a bit harder to kill, varying strengths and powers and a whole lot more drive behind them. It’s a nice change up. They’re also not the driving force of the book either. While they are a big part, there are a whole lot of other things going on at the same time in this version of LA. Stark has to work with a lot of different people and chase down a few sub plots, so it’s not all, “watch the survivors fight to the rebuilding of America”. In, this isn’t even a ‘zombie apocalypse’ situation. There’s just a zombie problem that needs cleared up!
The highlight of the “Sandman Slim” novels is the characters. Some are one dimensional, but they’re written well so that one dimension is pretty fun. Start is full of wise cracks and his side kick, that of a schlub of a man’s severed head…., are pretty entertaining. Mix in Stark’s dealings with various angels, covert organizations from Heaven, even Lucifer himself and you see a complete and well thought out world laid out in efficient manner. Topping it off, Kadrey’s writing style flows well and seldom feels like it is bogged down. It’s full of snark and one liners, with a purpose mind you, and makes for fun engaging reading.
The beauty is, fun and engaging is all I really ask for when reading genre fiction, so “Kill the Dead” hits the spot quite nicely!
I gave “Kill the Dead” 4 stars out of 5 over on Goodreads!
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