Kemper's Reviews > Kill the Dead

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
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Dec 09, 2010

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bookshelves: horror, magic

I would hate to have to pay Stark’s clothing and laundry bills because this guy can’t go ten minutes without getting his duds ripped to shreds or covered in the gore of various monsters and his own blood.

This series is making me a little nuts. In the first book, Sandman Slim, I thought the first half was a waste of a good idea and that the main character Stark came across as a whining impulsive punk who got regularly beaten like a rented mule rather than the super-tough anti-hero hitman from Hell he was supposed to be. Then the second half of the book ramped up the action and Stark finally seemed like the scary bad ass he’d been claiming to be.

I hoped that momentum would carry over into this book. But Kill the Dead started off badly for me. Once again, Stark was being an asshole just for the sake of being an asshole and he managed to get his ass kicked yet again and another leather jacket ruined in the first chapter.

However, it soon kicked into high gear and again seemed like Kadrey was gearing up for a big finish, but this time the book devolved into a confusing mess more concerned with setting up the next book than delivering a satisfying story here.

The plot picks up a few months after the events of Sandman Slim. Stark is in a bit of a funk. His roommate is a magically animated decapitated head with a taste for beer and burritos. (Don’t ask.) To make ends meet, he’s doing bounty hunter gigs on various demons and monsters for the Golden Vigil, a hybrid department of angels and Homeland Security.

Now a celebrity in L.A.’s supernatural underground due to his breakout from Hell, Stark is still on good terms with the devil himself. When Lucifer comes to Hollywood to supervise a bio-pic being done on him, he hires Stark to be his bodyguard. Fairly quickly, Stark is fighting off a team of kidnappers and hordes of zombies, but at least he’s met a beautiful Czechoslovakian porn star.

The action and overall storyline are good for most of the book and Kadrey delivers some funny lines regularly, but it’s also kind of confusing. I read Sandman Slim over a year ago , and there’s little recapping done to refresh the memory so there was more than once where I was scratching my head and wondering, “Who the hell is that person again? What’s a Jade? Wait, is she an angel?” Someone who hadn’t read the first book would be pretty much clueless.

There’s also still some severe logic gaps. Stark needs money, yet he has the ability to travel to any point on earth or several other universes. So why wouldn’t he just visit a bank vault or two? He certainly doesn’t have any moral objections to stealing since he’s constantly swiping sports car rather than using his traveling trick.

Much like the last book, I thought it was kind of fun and clever in spots, but leaned a little too heavily on the whole Stark-is-a-miserable-asshole schtick. I’m once again left hoping that the next one is an improvement, but I’m still interested enough to keep reading the series.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Brainycat Thanks for the excellent review. I've had the first one on my TBR for a while; it sounds like I need to bump it up closer to the top.

If you're interested in more Kadrey, he's put up a few dozen of his short stories at feedbooks. Last spring I read them all on a flight from Seattle to Las Vegas; I think his stories twisted my entire perception of Sin City.


Kemper Brainycat wrote: "Thanks for the excellent review. I've had the first one on my TBR for a while; it sounds like I need to bump it up closer to the top.

If you're interested in more Kadrey, he's put up a few doze..."


Thanks. There were parts of these two books that I really liked and other pieces that just annoyed me. Your mileage may vary...


message 3: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I would hate to have to pay Stark’s clothing and laundry bills because this guy can’t go ten minutes without getting his duds ripped to shreds or covered in the gore of various monsters and his own blood.

Maybe he shops at Goodwill.


Kemper Miriam wrote:

I think he just steals clothes.


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